Nohan Kenneh states Hibs ambitions as he reveals Patrick Vieira influence and opens up on Marcelo Bielsa 'murderball' sessions
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Highly rated at Leeds, the commanding defensive midfielder made the bench for a handful of English Premier League fixtures but didn’t see any gametime.
Having left Elland Road after nearly a decade, the Liberian-born player believes Hibs is the right move to accelerate his career.
"I’d been at Leeds since I was 11 and it was a hard decision to leave, but I wanted to play first team football,” he said after Hibs’ pre-season win against Hartlepool United.
"Hibs offered me that and I felt it was the best move for me. It was my decision to leave and the time was right for me to go. It wasn’t good for me to be playing just 23s football. I needed to prove myself. I felt the Scottish Premiership is a top league and I’ve got myself here which is good.”
Whites captain Liam Cooper is a regular in the Scotland national team and was able to pass on some words of advice when Kenneh was considering a move north.
“I’d watched the Scottish league before but when Hibs were interested in me I studied the Scottish league more and the history of the club.
"When I heard the position they’re in I felt it was the right fit. The skipper knew some of the boys like Paul McGinn and told me it would be brilliant, to go there and to just play my game and prove myself.”
At Leeds he took part in first-team training and was included in both Marcelo Bielsa and Jesse Marsch’s squads. He credits both with helping his development but had particular words of appreciation for the Argentinian.
"He was massive. His style of play is different to every other manager. His attention to detail is good and I felt he improved me massively tactically,” Kenneh continued.
"He had a translator but he could speak a bit of English. Everyone knew his game plan and everyone adapted to it.”
Kenneh also recalled taking part in Bielsa’s now legendary ‘Murderball’ sessions.
“It was one of the toughest training sessions ever. It’s like a mini-sided game, the coaches are around the pitch and every time the ball goes out the ball goes back in,” the 19-year-old explains.
"There are no fouls or offsides, everyone is just fouling each other. It’s hard but obviously it helps your fitness because when you’re playing a proper game it feels easier.”
Although he was played mostly as a centre-back by Leeds at under-23 level, Kenneh prefers to operate as a number six, or holding midfielder, and he highlights former Arsenal and France lynchpin Patrick Vieira as a key influence.
“I didn’t watch him but I watch his videos. He was a powerhouse in midfield and I still watch his videos.
"I want to play like him, try and bring his game into my game with how he is on the ball and off the ball.”
As for personal aims in green and white, Kenneh is in no doubt.
"Individually I want to play as much as possible. As a club, get as far as we can in the cups, and try to get a European place.”