ENGLAND INTERNATIONAL – Leeds United fans show their support for Archie Gray prior to the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Queens Park Rangers at Elland Road. Pic: George Wood/Getty Images
Durham-born Gray qualifies for Scotland through his grandfather and Leeds legend Frank Gray, who earned 32 caps for his country. Archie’s great uncle Eddie, one of the Elland Road all-time greats, also played 12 times for Scotland, while dad Andy, though Harrogate-born, won two caps for the Tartan Army. To date, Leeds’ latest representative of the Gray family has been consistent in his desire to play for the country of his birth. Gray earned 18 youth caps at Under 15, 16 and 17 levels before this season’s call up for the Under 19s, which saw him skip the Under 18s altogether. He played every minute of all three of the Under 19s European Championships qualifiers last month and will link up with Simon Rusk’s squad again this week for games against Romania, Japan and Mexico. The trio of fixtures will all take place at Marbella Football Centre in Spain.
Gray’s club captain, meanwhile, is in action with Scotland as they take on Georgia and Norway. Cooper makes no secret of his hope that Gray might opt for a senior international career with the country of his ancestors rather than England but admits it’s a long shot.
“I’m still trying to tap him up, don’t worry about that,” he joked.
“No, I’ve been a bit of a secret agent. He knows I’ll always be there. He’s such a young boy and his family are steeped in Scottish and Leeds history. There is definitely a bit of sentiment there but he’s flying at the minute with England. He’s captain of the Under-18s, which is a bit of a stinker for us. But I’ll keep nipping away and hopefully I can break him down. Have I spoke to the manager about him? No, not really. me and [assistant] John Carver and the boys have a bit of craic. They know how it is. It’s tough. Especially when the boy is playing so well and is captain of England at the minute. But you never know.”
Leeds boss Daniel Farke handed Gray his senior debut in the first game of the Championship season and the 17-year-old has gone on to play in 15 of 16 league outings. Eight of the youngster’s starts have come in his natural position of central midfield, alongside Ethan Ampadu, but Farke has more recently played Gray at right-back.