Leeds United spell was 'lowest in my professional career' admits Juve star

Weston McKennie #8 of the United States stands
-Credit: (Image: Greg Fiume/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

Weston McKennie says his time at Leeds was one of the lowest point in his professional career with the USA international admitting he cried following relegation to the Championship.

The combative midfielder was one of the big signings of the January 2023 summer transfer window, joining on loan from Italian giants Juventus. However, he failed to show the form which marked his early career with Schalke in Germany, and was part of the Leeds side that slipped out of the Premier League.

McKennie is back to his best with Juventus now, and set to play for the US national team on home soil at the Copa America later this month, but has reflected on his time at Elland Road and some of the abuse he received.

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"My time at Leeds was probably one of my lower points, if not the lowest in my professional career," McKennie told The Athletic. "I always look at the positive because I was at Juventus, playing week-in and week-out, and maybe I developed a little bit of comfortability or complacency, knowing I was going to play on the weekend. By going to Leeds and having the performance that I had there and the way that it just turned out in general - four coaches in five months, just nothing going to plan or how I imagined it.

"Football is a world where it's sometimes unforgiving. People obviously don't know what football players go through and the stress football players put on themselves to perform, because it's not like we want to perform badly.

"It's not like we want to lose games. It's just sometimes you have ups and downs, so it hurts. It was probably the first time besides for the World Cup exit in 2022 where I cried, after the last game of the season at Leeds, when we officially got relegated. I hate to lose and I felt like I really let down the expectations that people had of me going there.

"When people started attacking me - me as a person in general, not even with football - everyone knows that I'm more thick-boned than than some other players, in that my body shape is the way that it is. People don't really realise the effect that it has on people. I like to be happy and to make people happy, to make people laugh. So that was a little bit hard."

McKennie made 20 appearances for Leeds in the 2022-23 campaign, creating just one assist and failing to find the net, before returning to Italy.