July 20, 2024

A first professional contract has been agreed between Leeds United and one of last season’s FA Youth Cup heroes. Joe Richards has signed a one-year deal with the Whites two months after playing a key role on the right of the under-18s defence in May’s final.

The 18-year-old played every minute in that illustrious competition and caught the eye with his committed tackling and raids forward from right-back. Richards even made an impression with Scott Gardner’s Under-21s too and United have moved to tie him down to a first professional deal as he continues to develop.

A club statement said: “Leeds United are pleased to announce Joe Richards has signed his first professional contract with the club. The versatile defender has put pen to paper on a one-year deal, tying his future to Elland Road until 2025.

“The 18-year-old featured in every minute of the Whites’ FA Youth Cup journey last season, as Rob Etherington’s side reached the final at Etihad Stadium. Capable of playing at full-back or in a more advanced role on the wing, Richards also made a handful of appearances for Scott Gardner’s under-21s team, scoring against Fulham in just his fourth Premier League 2 outing.

“The club would like to congratulate Joe on signing his first professional contract and we look forward to seeing his development at Thorp Arch.”

There are expected to be several contract deals announced over the coming days with the club’s academy talents. Earlier on Tuesday, Reuben Lopata-White’s first professional deal and Harry Christy’s new contract were announced.

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