Luke Ayling has opened up on living with a speech impediment – and revealed he wants to use his position to help others with the same condition.
Leeds star Ayling developed a stutter as a child and admits it got so bad he refused to do interviews during the earlier stages of his career with Yeovil and Bristol City. But since joining Leeds in 2016 and going on to help them win promotion back to the Premier League, Ayling has learned to embrace it.
And he hopes this will give others with a stutter the same confidence and inspiration not let it hold them back. The Leeds captain said: "It's something I've had since I was little. My brother, who had special needs and passed away when he was 18, had it really bad.
"I was quite a quiet and shy lad and wouldn't do any interviews. When I came to Leeds I got a little bit more confident. Over the last few years I decided I didn't care about the horrible stuff people might say. If I do stutter in an interview, it really doesn't bother me now. You develop a thicker skin.
"I feel like I can get through life with it, like having a conversation with you now. It makes me the person I am. I'm not proud of it, it's just who I am. It's part of my character.
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"If I get tired after a game, that's when it might be bad. Like when we played Aston Villa. I'd chased around for 90 minutes then did an interview, which was quite bad. It's one of the first times people noticed.
"I went on Twitter afterwards and people said some really nice things. Getting in touch, teenagers, calling me inspirational. So if someone can take some confidence from me doing things like interviews, then happy days."
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