When DR Congo international winger Jordan Botaka joined Leeds United from Dutch club Excelsior for a rumoured fee or around £500k back in September he came with high expectations. At 22 the winger was relatively inexperienced and unheard of only having completed two full seasons. In his first season at Excelsior he scored 10 goals in 36 appearances helping them to win promotion from the Jupiler League, Dutch second tier. Last season back in the top tier, Eredivisie, he became more of a creator setting up 6 goals and scoring 1 in 33 appearances.
Botaka is a quick and skillfull winger and it is his skills that caught people attention when he signed for Leeds. It used to be that people got excited about soignings based on their Football Manager stats, these days it is based on YouTube videos and there are plenty of YouTube videos of Jordan Botaka to get fans excited. He certainly has 'tekkers', if you want keep ups, traps, drag backs, step overs and feigns then Botaka is your man.
Video compilation by LeedsUnitedComps
But English football is a different prospect to the Dutch leagues, especially the Championship. The game is much more physical this side of the North Sea and players can expect less time on the ball. It's probably no real surprise then that since Steve Evans became coach Botaka has had little chances. Botaka likes to take risks, likes to try to beat that extra man, try that extra step over when a simple pass may be the easier, safer option. It could be infuriating for a coach, especially one as old school as Steve Evans.
Botaka came to Leeds with a reputation for something other than skills, a commitment and determination to make it in the game. Dutch football expert Peter McVitie told the Yorkshire Evening Post that he had a hard start in his career, fleeing from the DR Congo his family lived in many asylum centres before finally settling. After several failed trials he was handed his chance and took it. He finally now seems to be getting a chance at Leeds United and he shows every chance of taking it.
To his credit Steve Evans has admitted that Steve Evans (Always the third person) was wrong about Jordan Botaka. He has worked his way back from training with the Under 21s to impressing in first team training and putting himself back in contention, illness in the camp may have handed him a lucky opportunity. Aside from 3 minutes against Fulham back in February and a couple of spots on the bench in March he has not featured until recently. He appeared back on the bench against Reading and had 15 minutes as a sub against Wolves and a further 45 against Hull on Saturday. It is clear he has impressed Evans in those spells...
I'm delighted with Jordan Botaka. He's heading into the starting line-up and his performance today was excellent. He's really had a spark about himself in the last two or three weeks and he will go home today deserving of that praise.
Botaka took to Twitter after the game to express himself , clearly delighted about being involved in the team again. He is a young lad with the drive to succeed, now that he is back in contention I'm sure he will grab that chance and we will see him in the starting line-up soon. It is always difficult for overseas players to adapt to the English game, especially the physicality of it and lack of time on the ball. Many skilful players have tried and failed to make it, Adryan for example, but if Botaka is now starting to adapt he could feature a lot next season. A spark of magic to liven up what has been a dreary campaign, could Botaka be the man for next season?