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New head coach excited about potential at Leeds United

Paul Heckingbottom.
Paul Heckingbottom.

New Leeds United head coach Paul Heckingbottom has spoken of his own ambition to manage in the Premier League and to take the Elland Road club back into the top flight.

The 40-year-old has signed an 18-month contract to take over at Leeds after leaving the Barnsley club of which he has been a lifelong fan and it says something about the pull of the Whites that he chose to move after previously turning down opportunities at Sunderland and Nottingham Forest.

Heckingbottom took charge of his first training session today after it was confirmed that he was taking over from Thomas Christiansen, who departed the club on Sunday night, and he is excited about the potential at Leeds.

He said: “I know all about Leeds and I think I have to use that to my advantage in terms of expectations, with the size and potential of the club and what the fans want.

“I am more comfortable sitting here, understanding the club and the history and being a big part of how it wants to go forward.

“You have to be ambitious when you do this job and to win promotion to the Premier League is the ultimate goal.

“With how things are going in management, in my position, you probably have to win promotion if you want to manage in the Premier League.

“If you ask any manager currently in any division, they will say they want to be in the Premier League, so it was another reason for making the change and is the ultimate challenge.”

Heckingbottom admitted his change of club had come about quickly after he had only signed a new contract with Barnsley last week.

He added: “It has been a bit of a whirlwind over the past couple of days, but I am really pleased to get everything over and done with.

“I’ve been out on the grass with the players, so everything is a bit more familiar for me now and it is straight into the job.

“I knew there had been contact on Monday, but I carried on my day as normal until had permission from Barnsley to speak to Leeds and it was a long night, before everything was finalised this morning.

“It has all been worth it, now it is all done and dusted, we can start looking forward, it has been an exciting time for me and now the work starts.

“Once I had been here and looked around, it was an easy decision for me to make.

“Everyone knows my affiliation with Barnsley, but when I signed on the dotted line to become a manager, I was going to be exiting Barnsley at some point, whether it was getting sacked or moving on, luckily for me it was a successful couple of years and now I am moving on to a really good club in Leeds.

“I am coming here to be one particular part of a bigger set up and it excites me to be responsible to be responsible for the team, players, performance staff and coaches, adding to what is already a clear infrastructure of how the club wants to be run, which really appeals to me.”