Will Huffer has told LeedsUnited.News that he has been impressed and pleasantly surprised by goalkeeper Illan Meslier after a stunning first half to the Premier League campaign, as well as commenting on what back-up stopper Kiko Casilla is like behind the scenes and on the training ground – and what is Murderball like for a goalkeeper?
Huffer, 22, has joined League Two side Bradford City from non-league outfit Bradford Park Avenue – having left Leeds United in the summer following the end of his contract. He is yet to make his debut at Valley Parade, remaining an unused substitute in three games so far. Many Leeds fans will remember England youth international Huffer for his only senior outing – keeping a clean sheet in a 2-0 win over Bristol City in November 2018.
Meanwhile, 20-year-old Meslier has been sensational for Leeds since his £5million summer move to Elland Road – starring in the Premier League. Despite conceding 38 goals – the second-highest in the Premier League behind West Brom – Meslier has starred for the Whites, with the club’s style of play more the reason behind that figure, than Meslier’s performances.
The French goalkeeper has made some stunning saves, keeping out John Lundstram against Sheffield United, Abdoulaye Doucoure in the 1-0 win over Everton and a one-on-one with Bukayo Saka during the 0-0 draw with Arsenal. Signed as an unknown from Lorient, Meslier is now a household name among Leeds supporters – all for a bargain fee and Huffer waxed lyrical about the goalkeeper.
He also commented on Casilla and while the Spaniard has come in for criticism – largely due to his performances and for being banned last season – Huffer explained what the former Real Madrid man is like behind the scenes.
“I think it was a bit surprising, no-one expected him [Meslier] to be as good as he is now. He makes some ridiculous saves, and his feet are a joke as well. I try and watch most of the Leeds games and I’ve been impressed with him,” Huffer told LeedsUnited.News. “Kiko is the most-chilled out guy I’ve ever met. He’s really down to earth, really nice bloke. He loves playing football, loves what he does. It was really good to watch him train – you look at the people he’s trained with, superstars.”
Huffer was on the verge of the first team when Bielsa replaced Paul Heckingbottom in the summer of 2018 – and his one senior outing came under the Argentine gaffer, with injuries to Jamal Blackman and Bailey Peacock-Farrell allowing Huffer to come in. It meant that Huffer is as good as anyone to talk about the Argentine, and what he is like off the pitch.
Indeed, Huffer spoke about his famously renowned training-ground method – Murderball. Many outfield players have spoken about it – Rodrigo, Luke Ayling, Patrick Bamford all explaining that it is mental, non-stop and that it hits the lungs. But it gets the Leeds squad ready to deploy their style of football in the Premier League, leaving other teams blowing come the full-time whistle.
But what is it like for a goalkeeper? Huffer explains:
“It’s absolutely crazy, but as a goalkeeper it’s great because you see everyone working their nuts off,” Huffer continued. “When the ball goes out, you get chucked a ball and you have to play the first pass you see. He’s not arsed about where it goes in play so people run. I always really enjoyed it, as it was man for man you’ve got to fashion a pass – it was brilliant, and I didn’t have to do any running. It is mental, there’s loads of people around the pitch – ‘get the ball on the pitch, pass the ball’. Loved it.”
Huffer is on a contract at Bradford City – where he is playing alongside Paudie O’Connor, Bryce Hosannah and Jordan Stevens – until the end of the season and is looking to break into the side before that deal ends. Read more from Huffer about his move to Bradford and his time at Leeds here: https://www.leedsunited.news/exclusives/exclusive-will-huffer-on-bradford-city-move-leeds-united-debut-and-a-team-meeting-with-marcelo-bielsa/ .