One to watch: Harry Leonard

Harry Leonard is a client of Pitch Representation and plays for Blackburn Rovers. The midfielder has been his side's leading goal-scorer numerous seasons, won the golden boot at his latest tournament and recently debuted for the U18 side – at just 15 years old.

The 2010 FIFA Football World Cup saw 32 teams compete in 64 matches and had an estimated overall tv viewership of 3.2 billion.

At the time, it was the most popular sporting event in history, but Matt Leonard’s confident that few people watched more of it than his then six-year-old son.

“I consider myself an avid football fan and watched a fair few games, but I’d get up early in the morning and Harry would be watching the replay of a game where he didn’t know the nations involved,” his father said.

“It was hard to understand how someone that age could be that passionate. It was bizarre.”

Now 15 years old, Harry’s obsession certainly hasn’t subsided. He still watches plenty of football, particularly to study role models like Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard.

But the majority of Leonard’s time is no longer spent watching, but honing and showcasing his own skills on the pitch. While the journey of a footballer is a long one, the Littleborough product has made an extraordinary start.

It took Blackburn Rovers 45 minutes of watching Leonard to offer him a place in their academy when he was 10. With interest from the likes of Leeds, Newcastle and Sunderland it wasn’t the easiest of decisions, but five years later it has proved to be the right one.

Initially recruited as a midfielder with a strong defensive presence, Leonard’s role has evolved in recent seasons.

A year into his time at Rovers he was made captain, a position he has retained throughout the age-group teams he’s played for. After getting the armband, the lifelong Manchester City fan dedicated hours to understanding the leadership qualities of Vincent Kompany and other highly regarded captains.

In terms of performance, he has certainly led from the front. Leonard has finished top goal scorer for his side the past four seasons, doing so from a defensive midfield position for the majority.

His prolific record in front of goal didn’t go unnoticed though and this season Leonard was moved into an attacking role – an opportunity he’s taken with both hands.

At the recent Iber Cup, Leonard finished with a tournament leading 12 goals from eight games, earning him the golden boot. Of all the players from across the 30 teams, he finished with the second highest player rating overall.

As for immediate ambitions, Leonard has been aiming to try and establish himself in the older Rovers U18 team. On 28 April, he made a significant stride in the right direction, making his debut off the bench and even getting on the scoresheet.

While there’s plenty more steps to go on Leonard’s journey, his father was unequivocal that one thing wouldn’t be a problem.

“He has the love for it. Everything he does is football.”

Keep an eye on Harry Leonard.

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