Leeds legend Gray: White has makings of top defender

Former manager and title-winning midfielder is expecting big things from Albion defender.

By Charlie Hanson • 15 January 2021

By Paul Hazlewood
Ben White could be one of the best in his position, according to Eddie Gray.

Leeds legend Eddie Gray believes that if Ben White continues to progress at his current rate he could become 'as good as anyone'.

The 23-year-old defender was a standout performer as Leeds won promotion from the Championship last season and Gray, who watches his former club on a regular basis, is in no doubt as to the role White played.

“It was a great experience for him to come to Leeds, be successful and get promotion. He played every game for us and his attitude was spot on.

“That's credit to the player and to Brighton. Their plan was always for Ben to get the experience with us under his belt and then play for them in the Premier League.

“He's mature now, but he's only 23 and he’s still growing into his frame, he’s a big lad. There's no doubt that he’s got all the talent to get right to the top, he can achieve what he wants to achieve. But he's sensible enough to know that he will have to keep working hard to get to that level.”

By Paul Hazlewood
Ben White came up against another one of his former teams last weekend, Newport County.

Having had successful spells on loan with Newport County and Peterborough United in previous seasons, White was already adept at getting used to new surroundings.

“He came to us and we were a bigger profile of club for him in terms of where he'd been on loan. He adapted very well,” added former Scotland international Gray.

“He was playing for a club with big expectations and a desire to get back into the Premier League after a long time out.

“He was a massive part of promotion. The Leeds supporters will always hold him in high esteem for what he did for our club.

“As soon as he came into the side, you could tell he could play. Like any player, you improve once you know your teammates and what the coach wants from you.

“Towards the end of the season, he was playing tremendously well, teams couldn't get near him.”

Gray thinks White's achievements to date are more impressive given the early knockback in his career.

By Bennett Dean
Gray is impressed by the way that White dealt with an early setback in his career.

“He will have been massively disappointed to have been let go by his first club [Southampton]. But he went to Brighton, got loaned out and learned the game so he could be as good as he is now.

“He proved he could play. Gareth Southgate was watching him at Leeds last year and he seems the type of lad who will work hard to improve.”

Marcelo Bielsa's team have been one of the more entertaining to watch in the Premier League this season, with Gray certain that Saturday's game at Elland Road will be an enjoyable spectacle.

“It will be an exciting game – both teams will be desperate to win. We've got to beat teams around us like Brighton if we want to stay in the division. We're still adapting and we will keep improving. Brighton is a big game.”