Jay-Roy Grot is not the man many Leeds United fans first assumed he would be.
Big, strong, explosive on the pitch, Grot is much quieter off it and has spoken several times about his struggles at the club.
After his first season at Leeds he was loaned to VVV Venlo and following the move, Grot spoke to the Dutch media about pressure, and abuse, from fans: “My self-confidence became less, my game too. Suddenly I had a hard time keeping up with the pace. I flew from front to back and from left to right, gasping for breath. I am someone who is very critical. I’m very strict with myself.
“Trainers and teammates continued to support me, and there were also supporters who said: ‘He’s young and you still have to get used to him, give him time’. But they were drowned out by whistling people in the stadium, by hateful Twitterers. It was also me, if ten people are positive and one negative, then the words of that one will remain.”
Since the move, Grot has been getting games, playing on either wing or upfront. He has a couple of goals and an assist so far in 12 games, and is now a Dutch U21 international.
The 20 year old has been speaking to De Limburger and again spoke about losing his confidence after being judged harshly by supporters: “I attracted the reactions of the fans. My game? It just didn’t matter anymore.”
For a period, Grot was on his own in Leeds and it made the whole situation more difficult for him, but it sounds like it also convinced him about a very important person in his life: “My girlfriend Rosalin had to finish her studies. That is why at one point I had my mother stay for a month. I needed someone to talk to. Fortunately, my girlfriend came over after that. She has completed her studies in Leeds. That she came to me means a lot to me. I have asked her to marry me, I am so convinced that she is the true one for me. And she said yes.”
De Limburger explain that Grot needs a close circle, and is especially close to his family after his 19 year old niece, Melissa, was murdered: “Twelve years ago that is now. She was murdered by a burglar, a friend of her then-boyfriend. She should have been at work, but she had been sick with toothache. I was very close to her, but I hold my feelings for myself. I do not like to talk about it.”
It’s explained by De Limburger that to help him continue to process the loss and to deal with the problems at Leeds, Grot hasn’t been afraid to seek help and to talk about it. The youngster said: “I first thought someone who takes on a mental coach, shows his weakness. But that’s nonsense. You get stronger. Just someone outside your family circle can hold up a mirror.”
Grot is still very much a Leeds United player, with three years of contract left, and the newspaper is in no doubt he’ll be returning, but it now won’t be such a ‘doom scenario’ because he’s happy at home with Rosalin and can transfer that to Yorkshire.
He’ll have to get out more than he did, though, because he’s made a promise to his mother not to sit at home playing computer games every night: “I was a hermit, but that is not good. You start to worry too much. You need relaxation. Going out for dinner or bowling for example.”
For Grot to return to Leeds United next season and make a success of it would be a great story, and there’s a very good chance fans, having learned more about the player, would be ready to approach things more positively.