Stuart Dallas: Social media criticism helped drive NI winger to produce starring role in Leeds' promotion

Stuart Dallas shows off the Championship trophy and his medal
Stuart Dallas helped Leeds secure a return to the Premier League after a 16-year gap

Stuart Dallas says criticism on social media played a part in him producing the best season of his career as he helped Leeds United secure promotion to the Premier League after a 16-year gap.

"You get things said, 'you're not good enough in a Championship-winning side'. That drives me on," said Dallas.

Dallas told Radio Ulster's Sportsound Extra Time social media criticism is "just the way the world is now".

"You're there to be shot down. It's not something to complain about.

"It comes from the world of social media where you can't please everybody."

From the Irish League to Premier League

Promotion to the Premier League caps a remarkable rise for Cookstown-born Dallas, who was playing for Irish Premiership side Crusaders eight years ago.

He earned a move to Brentford in 2012 before making the switch to Elland Road three years later.

Dallas says his comparatively late development after he signed his first professional contract at the age of 21 shows "not everybody must go to a club at 15 or 16" to have a cross-channel career.

"It just shows there is a pathway through the Irish League. That makes me appreciate things more because of where I've come from.

"I hadn't won a trophy since with Crusaders in the Setanta Cup final in 2012."

Dallas' performances for Marcelo Bielsa's side has even led local Leeds fan and musician Paul White to pen a song in his honour to the tune of The Jam's classic track A Town Called Malice.

"It makes me proud. I never ever thought I would have a song dedicated to me," laughs the Northern Irishman after being played He's Stuart Dallas.

Dallas with Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa
Dallas says Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa is a "special man"

'Bielsa has made me a better person'

Leeds boss Bielsa's has received huge praise for both his management skills and humanity during his time at Elland Road.

His side's faltering finish to last year's campaign saw them miss out on promotion in the play-offs which made this season's success all the sweeter.

"He's a special man and I'll never have the words to thank him. What he has done for me both off and on the pitch.

"He's made me a better person and not just me - everybody.

"When you saw the emotion on his face and how he celebrated with us the players, it stays with you.

"It's not too often you get a hug from him but on Friday night he made sure he went round every single person and hugged them."

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