WILL Hatfield cheered on the likes of Lee Bowyer and Harry Kewell as a youngster at Elland Road, and the Accrington Stanley ace admits he will realise a dream by lining up against Leeds United tonight.
The boyhood Leeds fan came through the youth system at the Yorkshire club but never got the opportunity to play for the first team, so tonight’s League Cup first round tie will be his first senior appearance at Elland Road.
“Since I left Leeds I’ve always dreamt of going back there and performing well,” said the 22-year-old attacking midfielder, who departed Leeds in 2012 before joining Stanley.
“You never know, if I could get a goal that would be a dream come true.
“Leeds have been a massive part of my career. I was there from when I was eight through to when I was 19, nearly 20, so it was a good 12 years. I really enjoyed my time there.
“I was a fan as well. I had a season ticket with my dad and my heroes were people like Lee Bowyer, Alan Smith, Dominic Matteo and Harry Kewell.
“Getting off the bus and going into the away changing room will be a strange feeling.”
Hatfield has overcome injury to put himself in contention tonight, having been an unused substitute in Saturday’s season opener against Southend.
Boss James Beattie said: “Will got a hip flexor injury in training maybe two weeks ago and I spoke to our physio Paul Morgan and he said he’s going to be four to six weeks.
“But miraculously because we were playing Leeds United on Tuesday, Will was available to train on Friday.”
“When the injury happened my first thought was, ‘Oh no, I’m going to miss the start of the season’ and the Leeds game was obviously just round the corner from that,” Hatfield said.
“But I’ve worked really hard trying to get myself right.
“It will be good to see a few old faces, although Tom Lees has just moved on to Sheffield Wednesday.
“My dad is the biggest Leeds fan, he always had a season ticket until he started coming to watch me instead. It’s a Leeds family.
“They’ll definitely be supporting me, although a few of my friends are massive Leeds fans and they’re supporting Leeds not me. I’m sure they’ll be encouraging me if I do well.”