By Richard Parks
Eoghan Stokes has revealed to the Irish Herald in a lethal parting shot at ex-club Leeds United that he was tired of playing “fake football’ in England.
The 21-year-old striker, who now plys his trade back home in the League of Ireland Premier Division with Bohemians, had his contract terminated by mutual consent after six years at Elland Road.
Stokes made only one first team appearance against Newport County in the League Cup earlier this season and felt he had no choice but to move on.
“Over there with the U23s you are playing with kids, it’s all about development. If you win, happy days, if you lose it’s no big deal, you just put it down to development,” Stokes told the Irish Herald.
“I knew that playing fake football in England wasn’t benefiting me in any way. You can score four goals in a game and it means nothing, the lads who are in the first team ahead of you have 200 or 300 games under their belts so they will get picked, managers over there are under such pressure to get results.”
Stokes, who notched his first senior goal for Bohs away at Limerick last week, also believes that the chopping and changing of managers at Elland Road hindered his development at Thorp Arch.
“I was doing well over there, scoring goals every week, but it was unfortunate that at Leeds there was a constant change of manager, constant rotation of players and that didn’t benefit me,” Stokes added to the Irish Herald.
“I decided to get out of Leeds and come home as I wanted to play football, play men’s football. I had been playing U23 football in England since I was 16 and it wasn’t doing me any good. When you are 17 or 18 and you are in the U23s at your club, it’s great but then you hit a wall. You get a taste of first-team football and you want that every week.”
Football Insider verdict:
These are hugely illuminating comments from Stokes, who joined as a 15-year-old starry-eyed schoolboy and left as a young man sick to the back teeth of development football where there is no pressure to secure results or points. The Irishman judged that his team had gone to make it at Elland Road and made the sensible move to return to Ireland and play regular top-flight football. His words are a warning to all who feel the academy and Under-23s systems are the answers to the football ills in this country.
In other Leeds United news, here are FIVE reasons why Samuel Saiz must be sold this summer – and why it makes perfect sense.