Leeds United defender Paudie O’Connor has revealed that former boss Paul Heckingbottom inspired him to leave the club and gain experience elsewhere.

The 21-year-old moved to the Whites from Limerick FC in March 2017.

Heckingbottom handed O’Connor his senior debut and he played four times for Leeds before the manager was sacked at the end of the season.

At the start of this season, the Irish centre-back went out on loan to Blackpool, where he played 17 times, scoring twice before the Whites cut short his time with the Tangerines.

He has swapped Bloomfield Road for the Northern Commercials Stadium and will stay with fellow League One club Bradford City until the end of the season.

And he says that he owes his current situation in part to the manager that gave him his first-team bow at Leeds.

“At the back end of last year, I spoke with Paul Heckingbottom, who was manager then, and he advised me that a full season at League One level would do me the world of good,” he told The Blackpool Gazette.

“Even though there was a manager change over the off-season that didn’t really alter my goal for this year.

“Blackpool was one of the first clubs to come calling and that’s how I ended up there.”

After two spells as caretaker manager of the club, Heckingbottom took over as permanent Barnsley boss in 2016.

He led the side to victory in the Football League Trophy and promotion to the Championship before moving to Leeds in February 2018.

However, Heckingbottom lasted less than four months at Elland Road, leaving the club after failing to get them into the play-offs and has yet to take up another job.

O’Connor, meanwhile, has a contract with Leeds until the end of next season, and needs to make the most of his time with Bradford to convince the new coaching regime that he has a future at Elland Road.

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