Kacper Lopata is one of a number of names in the Sheffield United youth system at the moment who is catching the eye of onlooking Blades fans.
Despite United being destined for relegation back to the Championship, the future is looking bright. Not only has now ex-manager Chris Wilder left good young players like Rhian Brewster and Jayden Bogle behind. But the club is once again seeing success at academy level.
The likes of Ky Gordon, Antwoine Hackford, and Iliman Ndiaye have already tasted first-team action of sorts this term. Beyond that, Frankie Maguire has been in the squad, while Hassan Ayari is also a name that is gathering interest.
But another name that has gone under the radar somewhat is young Polish defender, Kacper Lopata. The teenager arrived in Sheffield in the summer of 2020 after spells with Brighton and Bristol City.
And speaking in an in-depth interview Angielskee Espresso, Lopata says Chris Wilder was a big reason for him choosing the Blades.
“As a footballer, if you go to a team and see how you are received, how the coaches talk to you, but also how they talk about you, it says a lot. And the way Sheffield welcomed me after the first few days. I just knew I would sign there,” Lopata said.
“The coaches believe in me.Chris Wilder liked me a lot and I trained a lot with the first team before he left. It’s a great feeling because if you feel appreciated as a player and confident, then you play your best.”
Lopata reveals in his interview that he has been training with the first-team a lot and that despite original plans to see him go on loan this term, Wilder and assistant, Alan Knill, wanted him to stick around.
Lopata unsurprised to see Paul Heckingbottom doing well
Like many United youngsters, Lopata will be hoping the temporary appointment of Paul Heckingbottom might offer a quicker route into the Blades first-team.
With just a quarter of the season left and relegation all but confirmed, Lopata and co will hope their under-23 boss gives them a chance.
And while it remains to be seen who’ll be the first-team manager with United next season, Lopata insists it is no surprise to see Heckingbottom in charge at the moment.
“I also talked a lot with my U23 coach Paul Heckingbottom. After the first few days, when I saw him training, it impressed me a lot.
“It’s not a shock to me that he is now the first team manager. Because how he works, with what intensity, what he demanded of us every day, the standards and goals he gave us were very high.”
Now 19, Lopata will be hoping the next few months and the summer pre-season can offer him a route into the first-team. Interestingly, relegation might actually help his cause.
United have been low on defensive numbers this season anyway due to injury and with the likes of Jack O’Connell and John Egan bound to attract attention this summer, Lopata may get his chance.
“I think so. I’d be stupid if I told you no,” Lopata says in response to being asked if he is ready.
“I trained with them and felt good. They welcomed me very well, so the only thing left is to work for a chance. It will always come, you just have to use it.”