Brilliant should not be a term thrown around casually for sportsmen, but when I speak of Bamford as brilliant, I mean the start to his 2020/21 Premier League season can be considered as such.
Bamford sits at third on the Premier League top goals scorers list after scoring six goals in six appearances and averaging at a goal every 82 minutes. Fantastic statistics to start the season with, but what has been so brilliant to watch is the context from which this form and deadly conversion rate has emerged.
For starters, Bamford is embodying the fearless, dynamic and attractive underdog football that has characterised Leeds’ season so far. After 16 years out of the Premier League, the men from Elland Road returned under the guidance of legendary manager Marcelo Bielsa to nearly draw to Liverpool in the opening round, netting three in a narrow 4-3 loss. They’ve since lost only one more game, drawn to Pep’s Man City and won three, with the most recent victory courtesy of an unbelievable hat-rick from Bamford to put away 3-0 an Aston Villa side that had recorded a 7-2 win over Liverpool and had not yet lost a match. Bamford has scored in four of these six matches and Leeds now sit fifth on the log.
But a context to perhaps be more cognisant of, is Bamford’s journeyman label and relative lack of success in the top flight. Chelsea had Bamford on their books for five years after signing him from Nottingham Forrest, yet he never made one first class appearance for the side. During the five years he was loaned out six times, to MK Dons, Derby, Middlesbrough, Crystal Palace, Norwich and Burnley. At Burnley, manager Sean Dyche clashed with Bamford, believing that with his private school education, musical capabilities and scholarship offer to Harvard Business School, had been brought up in a way in which he never had to work for anything. Bamford’s response was to highlight the irrelevance of his background and the relevance of hard work.
‘I started at Nottingham Forest cleaning toilets and scrubbing the shower floors.
‘So saying I didn’t want it enough was upsetting. I went home every night wondering how to get in the Burnley team. It was: “You’ve been brought up nicely, had everything handed to you”.
‘Is that what people think just because I went to private school and played instruments?
‘People don’t know. My parents never let me have everything. If I started something I had to finish.’ – dailymail.uk
So despite the various teams represented, Bamford (until this year with Leeds), had managed only one Premier League goal (for Middlesbrough) in 27 Premier League appearances across clubs. A statistic not becoming of the talent that Bamford is, and the left foot that he possesses.
After 27 Premier League appearances and at 27 years old, Bamford moved to Leeds, his ninth club and helped them to Premier League promotion with 16 goals. In just six games in the Premier League in 2020/21, Bamford’s 26.1% shot conversion rate, 6 goals and average of one goal per match is a brilliant football story.
The brilliance is compounded by the fact that Bamford the “private school boy who played instruments” was overlooked and insulted at Burnley, but the same Bamford, whose clear love for academia and education sees him speaking Spanish and knowing the value of hard work, now thrives under Bielsa in a Leeds team that looks to be becoming a special story.