5 facts you may not know about Leon Bailey
By Rune Gjerulff @runegjerulff
After making his Bundesliga breakthrough in the 2017/18 season, Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey will be eager to impress us again in the new season. We have found five facts about him that you may not know.
|Leon Bailey (right) with Schalke 04's Franco Di Santo.|
Bailey was born in Kingston Jamaica on the 9 August 1997. At a young age, he played for the Phoenix All-Star Academy which is operated by his adoptive father, Craig Butler.
2. Club issues
In 2011, Craig Butler went to Europe to find a club for his son Kyle Butler as well as Bailey. After a successful trial at Genk in 2012, the Belgian club made Bailey sign a draft agreement at the age of 15 - which is illegal. Eventually, the Labour Ministry found out, and the Butlers left the country. Instead, Bailey played for the youth sides of Austrian side FC Liefering (2011-13) and Slovakian side Trencin (2013-15) before he finally signed a professional contract with Genk in 2015.
3. Impressed in Belgium from the start
Bailey made his debut for Genk on 21 August 2015. After his first season, he was named Belgian Young Footballer of the Year. In the 2016/17 season, Bailey impressed in the Europa League, and UEFA eventually picked his goal against Rapid Wien on 15 September 2016 as the season's top goal of the competition.
4. Breakthrough in Germany
In 2017, Bailey joined Bayer Leverkusen for €20 million with clubs such as Manchester United and Chelsea also mentioned as being interested in the winger. After adjusting to the Bundesliga and his new club, the young starlet made his breakthrough in the 2017/18 season in which he made 30 appearances with nine goals and six assists to his name.
5. National team issues
Bailey has appeared in an under-23 match for Jamaica, but still hasn't made his debut for the senior national team. "They always wanted me to play for Jamaica, but I've had personal problems with the association since I was eleven or twelve years old," Bailey told Kicker in September 2017. Winfried Schäfer - a former Jamaican national team coach - told Bild in January 2018 that he wanted to give Bailey his senior debut for Jamaica, but that "his step-father blocked everything". It has been claimed that Bailey is eligible to play for England, because two of his grandparents have English passports, but they weren't born in England which means Bailey can't represent the 'Three Lions'.