By Alex Stevens
Jordan Botaka has revealed how a frank exchange with Steve Evans has reignited his Leeds career.
Botaka has had a disappointing first season at Elland Road since joining from Dutch team Excelsior last summer.
The 22-year-old has made just 11 Championships appearances and not started a single league match since Evans was appointed manager in October.
However, Botaka’s introduction from the bench at half-time in Saturday’s Championship clash against Hull sparked a 2-2 comeback, with the youngster setting up the equaliser for Stuart Dallas following a driving run.
Botaka admitted he had driven himself to prove Evans wrong after the Leeds manager went public with his criticism of him him earlier in the season.
The Scot claimed the winger had been “very fortunate to be on the pitch” during Leeds’ FA Cup defeat to Watford in February and only appeared as a substitute because he “didn’t have any other options for the bench”.
“He (Evans) was very critical,” said Bokata, as quoted by the Yorkshire Evening Post. “Everyone has his opinion and he had his for me. It was up to me to prove him wrong.
“I’m honest with you – it was very difficult for me to accept the fact that I wasn’t even near the squad and not even on the bench.
“I told him as well. We are men, we face each other and I told him what I thought of the fact that I wasn’t playing. I told him in his face and he told me in my face what he thought about me. And we moved on from that moment.
“Here I got 45 minutes and I gave one assist for 2-2 so I’m happy for the moment.”
Evans admitted at the end of Saturday’s match that the winger could now be given a start in Leeds’ final home game against Charlton this weekend on the strength of his last two appearances.
“I think we know where Jordan is heading and he is heading into the starting line-up,” said Evans speaking after the game to BBC Radio Leeds. “His performance today when he came on gave us a real spark.
“I think Jordan accepts what I said to him privately and publicly that it’s easier when you’re a player with a bit of pace and a bit of skill to come on when players are tired.
“The kid can go home deserving of that praise from me.”