Harrison Male has experienced first-hand the “massive” impact Marcelo Bielsa had at Leeds United.

He has sat across the under-23s changing room from new signing Ben White.

Male joined the club as a seven-year-old, doing Friday night sessions after school at about the time future Albion star Casper Ankergren was No.1.

High standards. Big names. The height of professionalism.

But, as he reflected on 12 years in the Leeds youth set-up, one memory probably stands out.

That was the day the goalkeeper didn’t turn up for a game.

Male made a decision he still can’t quite explain and has not looked back since.

The Worthing No.1 is good with his feet under pressure, even by the standards of present day goalkeepers – and there is a reason for that.

He said: “I started with Leeds as an outfielder.

“At the age off 11 our keeper didn’t turn up so it was who wanted to go in goal.

“I put my hand up and the rest is history.”

Why did he volunteer to go in goal?

“You tell me! Not a clue. But I did well and kept going from there.”

Neil Sullivan as a huge influence in later years as a goalkeeping coach.

So were Billy Russell and Mark Jackson in the under-18s.

But Male was still there to be part of the biggest change of all when Bielsa arrived.

He said: “Bielsa had an impact on everyone. The club changed massively when he came in.

“From everything – off the pitch, on the pitch, recovery. Everything he did was a massive impact.

“I was never in the first team because he worked with a very small squad.

“But I was in and out of the sessions with the first team keepers and you could see the intensity he wanted. It was massive.

“Ben White was there. When he came this is one of Bielsa’s little philosophy things.

“He puts him in the under-23s’ changing room, opposite me.

“Ben’s a good lad. Obviously he started the season in the first team dressing room.

“He’s a top guy and he is doing really well at the moment.

“My ambition is to play as high as I can. At the moment I am happy here.

“We are going to keep pushing as a team.

“All we all want is to keep going, keep going, keep going.

“But, for myself, just see where it takes me.”

A chance meeting with Worthing skipper Aaron Racine when they were both rehabbing at St George’s Park led to Male heading south.

He has been impressed by support at Worthing, where four-figure crowds are now the norm.

They are five points clear in the Isthmian League after a good run but attention turns to the FA Trophy tomorrow when they visit Hayes and Yeading as Sussex’s only representatives in the first round proper.

Male’s penalty save helped the Mackerel Men hold on to beat Potters Bar 2-1 in their most recent league outing.

He is well aware of what has happened to his three immediate predecessors in the Worthing goal.

Lucas Covolan is now first choice at Port Vale, Carl Rushworth plays for Walsall and has been called in by England under-21s and Roco Rees is with Brentford B.

He said: “It’s a good pathway here. You get the opportunity to show what you can do and I feel like I am doing that well at the moment.

“Who knows? But I’m happy here at the moment.


“I’m grateful Worthing are here for me to keep pushing on.

“You have just got to look at the fans.

“They cherish this club so each game is massive.

“It doesn’t matter who we are playing – whether it’s cup, league or anything.

“We cherish each game because we want to put on a show for each fan that comes.”