Sam Byram is a name that has, thankfully for Leeds fans, floated under the radar after the emergence of various young talent in the Npower Championship. Will Hughes, Tom Ince and the highly talked about Wilfried Zaha have led the race for the Championship young player of the year allowing Sam Byram to calmly go about his business as he continues to keep the established Lee Peltier out of the right back spot that Byram has dominated this season.
Sam Byram’s professional career started off in the summer, an 18 year old called up to make up the numbers before Leeds’ pre season friendly against Farsley Celtic to having Gareth Bale safely in his back pocket in the space of seven months. Byram had once again gone under the radar through his youth academy years and it wasn’t till Leeds’ first match of the season that many Leeds fans had even heard of him, now we know that he is infact a very different kettle of fish to what we’ve seen in recent years.
Sam was an unknown at the start of this year, only being called up to the first team squad for pre season as Leeds waited to complete the transfer of Lee Peltier. Sam did the business though, impressing through pre-season led to him keeping his spot at right back and has since made 42 appearances this season for Leeds United.
Adequate as a right back or in an advance right midfield role Byram has excelled; keeping dangerous wingers Matt Jarvis and Wilfried Zaha quiet and Byram can surely boast that he’s the only player ever to keep Spurs’ starlet Gareth Bale at bay (in the last two months anyways) after Leeds’ 2-1 scalp over Tottenham. Sam has also terrorised right backs during his few outings at right midfield; scoring this goal that is nominated for Football League Goal of the Season against Oxford and frightening Stephen Warnock has he scored and assisted one away at Bolton earlier this year.
Sam is the complete right back. Despite the obvious fact that it doesn’t have the same ring to it that the complete midfielder or the complete striker has to it, it is infact a position that Sam Byram has been impressing in for Leeds United. Defensively, Sam’s maturity has shown in his positioning, his pace and his strength when attacked (shown in his impressive displays when up against Premier League standard wingers) but it’s coupled with his ability to knock it past his man, the ability to whip a dangerous ball in and the ever going engine going forward. Sam, ever present in the Leeds side this season hasn’t been pressured into playing right midfield (like every good young right back is) and has combined his swanky, stylish quick feet going forward with his grinding out, tough tackling role at the back.
And despite Leeds’ gruesome, unflattering hoofball system that we’ve installed this year, Sam has adapted and showed that he is keen when the ball is on the ground but is also willing to battle for the ball and give it to the big men when needed. However, Sam Byram would surely be a better fit in a fluid, passing system that allowed him to flourish; perhaps at Liverpool or Swansea in the near future but I feel he is one the rare young English talents that might go abroad and make a name for himself, it could be only then that we see the true potential of his attacking right back role.
I must assure you that this isn’t just one of those articles that are completely hyperbole; Sam has shown the maturity expected of an experienced right back coming down from the Premier League with the youthful engine of a Man United academy graduate. Sam, while admittedly not the finished article, is staying humble, biding his time (having signed two contract extensions at Leeds this season alone) and waiting patiently to take on the Premier League or any other top division when his time (and trust me, it will) comes.