Leeds star Dan James ready to take penalty in play-off despite Wales heartache and says 90,000 fans will make it EASIER

DAN JAMES will be ready to take a penalty that could be worth £140MILLION to Leeds if today’s richest game in football goes down to a shootout. The Yorkshire-born winger saw his last spot-kick saved in March which was decisive as Wales were heartbreakingly eliminated from this summer’s Euros on penalties in their play-off with Poland. AlamyLeeds are on the brink of a return to the Premier League[/caption] PADan James missed a crucial penalty as Wales missed out on Euro 2024[/caption] PAThe speedster says he will happily take a spot-kick again[/caption] But James, 26, bounced back from that agony with a 45-yard wonder goal against his boyhood club Hull in April which brought the house down at Elland Road. And he will not shy away from the challenge if the Championship play-off final with Southampton goes the distance. James has already been successful in taking a penalty in a shootout in a major final for Manchester United in the Europa League against Villarreal, which they eventually lost. He said: “When taking a penalty, you make up your mind where to shoot and stick with it. “You’ve got to be confident and trust all the tips and tricks you’ve learned down the years. “But we’ve all also got to be mentally and physically ready after 120 minutes. “You’re going to be tired mentally so it’s important to relax. “When I scored the penalty in the Europa League final, there were no fans because it was during Covid, so it’ll be much different with 90,000 at Wembley on Sunday. CASINO SPECIAL – BEST CASINO WELCOME OFFERS “Having the supporters there won’t add pressure. It’ll be better because it gives you extra motivation. “Having the penalty saved for Wales was disappointing. There’s always going to be someone who misses and unfortunately it was me that night. It only makes you stronger. “I felt disappointed for the nation because they didn’t get to experience the Euros this summer. Our supporters weren’t able to go in 2021 from Wales to Baku, Azerbaijan, for the Switzerland and Turkey games because of Covid, nor Amsterdam for the Denmark match. “I’ve got to live with that penalty now and it’ll always be at the back of my mind even when I finish football. “But you go through those things. If I was to do it again, I’d not be afraid. You’ve got to be mentally ready in your head ? pick your spot and get on with it.” Leeds can count themselves unfortunate not to be automatically promoted having posted 90 points during the season ? thanks to the extraordinary campaigns of both Leicester and Ipswich. But history is on their side as only Sunderland in 1998 have ever reached 90 points and not been promoted. Although one piece of history will not help their cause ? Leeds have NEVER been promoted via a play-off and this is their SIXTH attempt. Who are these famous footballers? I was West Ham captain but I almost went to jail over bankruptcy I’m a former Man Utd star and I once stole a girl from Ronaldo I’m an ex-Man Utd star – now I own a dog-themed B&B I was Thierry Henry’s toughest opponent but quit to become a pastor I’m a former Wolves striker but I left football behind to become a vicar James, who also played at Wembley in a FA Cup semi-final loss to Chelsea in 2020, said: “There’s always a lot of talk about the play-offs and what’s gone on before. It’s not an extra thing we’re playing in our heads. “We see this as an opportunity to win promotion at Wembley, which would be an unbelievable achievement. “Our mindset is to put everything we can into making that happen ? and not coming off that pitching thinking we could’ve done a little bit more. “We’ve got to go into it with energy and confidence.” ReutersJames will be a threat for Leeds at Wembley[/caption] Rival fans love singing at this time of year “Leeds Are Falling Apart Again” to the tune of Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division. The Yorkshire side lost four of their last six league games, winning just once, to allow Leicester and Ipswich to pull clear. The home loss to Blackburn and 4-0 thumping away at QPR were particularly hard to take. Leeds also endured a tough start to the season while the transfer window was open with players queuing up to jump ship after relegation. And it was only when the transfer window closed and new signings such as Joel Piroe, Ethan Ampadu, Ilia Gruev, Glen Kamara and Sam Byram were able to settle that Daniel Farke’s men got motoring. Can you name the famous fathers? Our dad’s a Man Utd legend – now we run our own gym My dad is an Arsenal Invincible – and I played under him Our dad is Man Utd Treble winner – now we’re following in his footsteps My dad is a legendary manager – and I even dated one of his players Our dad won it all for Chelsea – now we’re starring for our

Leeds star Dan James ready to take penalty in play-off despite Wales heartache and says 90,000 fans will make it EASIER

DAN JAMES will be ready to take a penalty that could be worth £140MILLION to Leeds if today’s richest game in football goes down to a shootout.

The Yorkshire-born winger saw his last spot-kick saved in March which was decisive as Wales were heartbreakingly eliminated from this summer’s Euros on penalties in their play-off with Poland.

Alamy
Leeds are on the brink of a return to the Premier League[/caption]
PA
Dan James missed a crucial penalty as Wales missed out on Euro 2024[/caption]
PA
The speedster says he will happily take a spot-kick again[/caption]

But James, 26, bounced back from that agony with a 45-yard wonder goal against his boyhood club Hull in April which brought the house down at Elland Road.

And he will not shy away from the challenge if the Championship play-off final with Southampton goes the distance.

James has already been successful in taking a penalty in a shootout in a major final for Manchester United in the Europa League against Villarreal, which they eventually lost.

He said: “When taking a penalty, you make up your mind where to shoot and stick with it.

“You’ve got to be confident and trust all the tips and tricks you’ve learned down the years.

“But we’ve all also got to be mentally and physically ready after 120 minutes.

“You’re going to be tired mentally so it’s important to relax.

“When I scored the penalty in the Europa League final, there were no fans because it was during Covid, so it’ll be much different with 90,000 at Wembley on Sunday.

CASINO SPECIAL – BEST CASINO WELCOME OFFERS

“Having the supporters there won’t add pressure. It’ll be better because it gives you extra motivation.

“Having the penalty saved for Wales was disappointing. There’s always going to be someone who misses and unfortunately it was me that night. It only makes you stronger.

“I felt disappointed for the nation because they didn’t get to experience the

Euros this summer. Our supporters weren’t able to go in 2021 from Wales to Baku, Azerbaijan, for the Switzerland and Turkey games because of Covid, nor Amsterdam for the Denmark match.

“I’ve got to live with that penalty now and it’ll always be at the back of my mind even when I finish football.

“But you go through those things. If I was to do it again, I’d not be afraid. You’ve got to be mentally ready in your head ? pick your spot and get on with it.”

Leeds can count themselves unfortunate not to be automatically promoted having posted 90 points during the season ? thanks to the extraordinary campaigns of both Leicester and Ipswich.

But history is on their side as only Sunderland in 1998 have ever reached 90 points and not been promoted.

Although one piece of history will not help their cause ? Leeds have NEVER been promoted via a play-off and this is their SIXTH attempt.

Who are these famous footballers?

James, who also played at Wembley in a FA Cup semi-final loss to Chelsea in 2020, said: “There’s always a lot of talk about the play-offs and what’s gone on before.

It’s not an extra thing we’re playing in our heads.

“We see this as an opportunity to win promotion at Wembley, which would be an unbelievable achievement.

“Our mindset is to put everything we can into making that happen ? and not coming off that pitching thinking we could’ve done a little bit more.

“We’ve got to go into it with energy and confidence.”

Reuters
James will be a threat for Leeds at Wembley[/caption]

Rival fans love singing at this time of year “Leeds Are Falling Apart Again” to the tune of Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division.

The Yorkshire side lost four of their last six league games, winning just once, to allow Leicester and Ipswich to pull clear.

The home loss to Blackburn and 4-0 thumping away at QPR were particularly hard to take.

Leeds also endured a tough start to the season while the transfer window was open with players queuing up to jump ship after relegation.

And it was only when the transfer window closed and new signings such as Joel Piroe, Ethan Ampadu, Ilia Gruev, Glen

Kamara and Sam Byram were able to settle that Daniel Farke’s men got motoring.

Can you name the famous fathers?

James said: “After the first five games we were near the bottom. A lot of people were doubting us but we really picked up from there.

“We started 2024 unbelievably. We were 17 points behind Leicester at one stage and ended up being top of the league for a couple of games.

“However, we went through a rough patch ? which every team has ? but unfortunately ours was at the end.

“QPR was a bit different but the games against Sunderland and Blackburn, where we dominated but didn’t have that ruthlessness to finish the games off, was hard to take.

“The team got 90 points which is nearly always enough to go up. So you must give credit to Ipswich and Leicester who thoroughly deserved to go up.

“For us, it was about dusting down the disappointment and going again. And we showed that in the two play-off semifinals against Norwich.”

Getty
James is hoping to put his Wales heartbreak behind him[/caption]

Leeds were close to perfect as they dispatched the Canaries 4-0 at Elland Road after being pragmatic and solid at the back in a goalless draw at Carrow Road.

That home rout of Norwich and 4-0 win against Ipswich at Elland Road in December were without question the two standout performances of the season.

And there is no Championship team with a richer array of attacking talent in their ranks than Leeds with the likes of James, Piroe, Crysencio Summerville,

Georginio Rutter and Wilfried Gnonto.

James said: “There’s a lot of competition there. There have been a lot of goals from everyone who has played, which is brilliant for us as a team.

“It’s hard for a manager to go and pick a team from there.

“Southampton have the same attacking qualities and have goals in them.

“For us it’s how we can defend from the front. It’s not just the back four and the keeper, it’s from the front. That will be a big factor.

“Keeping a clean sheet is so important. The last two games we’ve done that.

“And if we can go into the game on Sunday with the same mindset, we’ll have a great chance.”