Let’s take a look at 7 of the Yorkshire club’s best footballers to emerge from their famous academy….
One of the best central defenders of his generation. A brilliant footballing mind to have in the centre of any defence. Woody rose through the ranks to replace the outstanding Lucas Radebe. His brilliant performances helped Leeds reach the Champions League semi final in 2001. He later made a dream move to Real Madrid but injury would hold him back from showing his true class. Later in his career he had spells at Newcastle and Middlesbrough where he would regain his magnificent form.
2. Gary Kelly
The little Irish right back played over 400 times for his beloved Leeds and alway put in 100% effort. Kelly was quick and could always find players in the box with his exceptional crossing ability. He stayed with the club through thick and thin despite many offers. He captained the club as they battled relegation and the pain Kelly suffered was plain to see. A great academy product who never left the club.
During the great David O’Leary years, Paul Robinson, despite being a young age, managed to replace the fantastic Nigel Martin between the sticks. His performances for Leeds caught the eye of England and he became a regular international. From the Leeds academy he went on to play for Spurs, Blackburn Rovers and Burnley.
The quiet but skillful Ian Harte played made over 200 appearances for Leeds Utd. As part of the O’Learly team, Harte scored many a free kick with his unbelievable left foot. Harte had a long and successful career that took him to Spain with Levante and a whole host of english clubs including Reading and Sunderland.
The English goalkeeping legend was a huge Leeds fan and made it to the academy as a youngster. It didn’t work out for Seaman at Leeds but what was Leeds’ loss was Arsenal’s gain. Seaman developed into one of the best keepers of his generation winning countless awards and championships. He was England’s No.1 for many years most famously saving Gary Mcallister’s penalty during Euro 96.
The Yorkshire region currently has a high proportion of Premier League professionals. The current England left back was just too good, however, to stay at Leeds. His blistering pace and defensive skills meant that it wasn’t long before he was snapped up by Spurs. Still a Leeds fan to this day, you never know, we might see him a Leeds shirt again if the club can get back into the Premier League.
Milner burst onto to the seen in 2002 when he became the youngest ever player to make an appearance in the Premier League. He made over 60 starts for Leeds before having to be sold to Newcastle as the club battle debts and relegation. Milner has had a stellar career winning the Premier League with Man City. He currently plays for the mighty Liverpool where he has proved to be one of the most versatile players in England.