Leeds vice-captain Luke Ayling has opened up about the difficulties he encounters due to his stammer.
The 30-year-old defender was speaking to the BBC ahead of appearing on their MOTDx program and says when first arriving at Elland Road he would shy away from talking with the press.
“When I first came to Leeds I wasn’t comfortable at all doing interviews” he admits.
He has since become a vocal member of the dressing room and a regular interviewee with the media, earning cult hero status among fans for his courage and honesty alongside his footballing ability.
“I’ve kind of got to a point now where I just don’t care.”
“If I do an interview and I have a stutter… I see a lot of people who maybe don’t know I’ve got a stutter say ‘all I hear is then and like’.”
“I just got to a point where I thought I’m doing an interview with somebody who wants to speak to me and actually wants to hear what I’ve got to say so why am I scared to do it?”
The Arsenal academy graduate has certainly shown bravery and leadership on the pitch for the Whites’ in recent weeks, captaining the side in Liam Cooper’s absence to back-to-back victories against Norwich and Wolves to drag Leeds 7 points clear of the drop zone.
He was particularly crucial in the victory at Molineux, striking the post before Jack Harrison’s opener and smashing through the legs of home keeper Jose Sa to snatch a dramatic 3-2 victory.
And although the senior figure in the Elland Road dressing room has overcome many of his anxieties, he admits even now they can bring him to avoid certain situations or dialogues.
“I’ll still go to a drive thru and I’ll be sat in the drivers seat and I’ll still make my missus order it because I don’t want to do it so I still have those insecurities.”
“It’s horrible because I sit here and I’ve got loads of things that I want to say but I know I can’t get them out.. that’s probably why I’m quite loud in the dressing room! I just don’t care because I say what I feel.”
His leadership and fortitude has shone through in recent weeks both on and off the field and having a player with such spirit can only be a positive for Leeds as they look to continue their rise up the league table.