Leeds United v Millwall: Sam happy to discover his roots on return to Leeds

THE passport says so, as do the multitude of football yearbooks. But from the moment Lloyd Sam offers his hand and a chirpy "all right, mate" to the Yorkshire Post, it is clear something is amiss.

The 25-year-old former England Youth international may have been born in Leeds but the accent is pure London.

Sam, since joining on a free transfer from Charlton Athletic during the summer, may have followed in the footsteps of David Batty, Alan Smith and Jonny Howson by appearing for his home-town team.

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But whereas that particular trio speak with a distinctive West Riding brogue, the amiable Sam most definitely does not.

Clearly, he is Leeds-born but not Leeds-bred.

"I was only two months old when I left Leeds," explains Sam in the Thorp Arch sunshine ahead of today's lunchtime meeting with Millwall.

"My dad was a student at Leeds University but his course was ending so we moved to London.

"Of course, I never forgot where I was born. How could I? Every time I looked at my passport it said 'Leeds' under birthplace.

"But apart from a couple of visits to Elland Road with Charlton, I had never been back to Leeds. That is why it has been nice to explore with my girlfriend.

"We both like it a lot and have found a few nice restaurants, though I have to admit it does feel strange that this is where I was born and yet I know little about the place.

"Bradley Johnson, who I knew in London, offered to show me around so that helped. But I still doubt we have scratched the surface yet.

"It is something I am going to change. I will ask my dad about Leeds a lot more now I live here.

"He hasn't managed to get up for a game yet but he will be coming soon. He is looking forward to seeing if Leeds is still the same."

Sam's father will, no doubt, find a much-changed city centre when he finally does venture north.

What is also likely to be evident is just how well his son has adapted to life back in Yorkshire.

Two goals from his first three appearances means Sam is already halfway to his previous best tally in a season, a feat he achieved as Charlton reached the League One play-offs last term.

Such a positive start means returning to his roots has proved easy, even if he is yet to find a house.

The 25-year-old, who had a stint on loan at Sheffield Wednesday five seasons ago, said: "It was a crazy start. I signed in July and then flew out to Slovakia for Leeds' pre-season tour the following day.

"It meant I only met the boys as I got on the plane. Then, when we got back, I had hardly anything with me. I was all over the place.

"Even now, I still haven't managed to move in anywhere but because the football is going well I am not too bothered."

As a youngster, Sam spent six months with Arsenal's youth set-up and a year at Wimbledon before signing for Charlton Athletic at 14.

He went on to make his first team debut against Crystal Palace on the final day of the 2004-05 Premier League season.

Nine further top-flight appearances followed before Sam established his place in the Addicks' starting line-up on the club's return to the Championship in 2007.

Two seasons later, however, Charlton had slipped into League One.

Sam said: "I had been part of the team that went down so felt I owed it to stay and try to get Charlton back up.

"It wasn't very nice to drop down, especially as we had only been in the Premier League a couple of years earlier. I imagine it was the same for Leeds when they went down.

"Unfortunately, Charlton lost in the play-offs last season and it was time to move on. I had a few offers, but Leeds really stood out.

"It was an easy choice, and with me being born here there was really only going to be one club I could join.

"My dad thought it was the right decision. He said: 'They

are a big club who can push on and it will be great to be part of that'."

Leeds will today go in search of their first win in the Championship since Burnley were beaten at Elland Road on April 14, 2007.

Millwall are the visitors and Sam admits the chance to face the early league leaders is one he is eagerly anticipating.

He said: "In a way, playing Millwall will be strange. I was born in Leeds but until recently lived in Millwall.

"As a Charlton player, we always saw Millwall as a big game because the clubs were so close. Even the youth teams had a big rivalry.

"I hated them so it will be nice to put one over them. You know what to expect against Millwall because they work very hard.

"They are also top of the league after beating two really good teams (in Bristol City and Hull City).

"But we are confident. What we have to do is come out of the blocks quicker. It has been a problem in both league games when we have started slowly.

"Every game is going to be like a war this season and we have to be ready.

"I thought we were a bit nervous on the opening day against Derby. Everyone was a bit tense and it showed on the pitch as we lost (2-1).

"Against Forest, we didn't start well and they could have been two or three goals up at one stage. But we fought back to draw.

"Everyone seemed a lot more relaxed in the second half against Forest and we could have won it."

As for the season, Sam insists Leeds are aiming high on their return to the second tier.

He said: "Every team is probably thinking the same – let's try and get in the play-offs. It will be tough but it can be done."

Team news: Davide Somma returns from suspension and may be on the bench, but Max Gradel still has one more game to serve following his red card on the final day of last season. Scans on Robert Snodgrass and Billy Paynter last Tuesday were deemed to be "positive" by manager Simon Grayson but there is still no anticipated return date for either player.

Last six games: Leeds United WLWLWD, Millwall DWWWWW.

Referee: C Webster (Tyne & Wear).

Last time: Leeds United 0 Millwall 2; March 22, 2010; League One.

SkyBet odds: Leeds to win 13-10, Millwall to win 21-10, Draw 9/4.