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Leeds United F.C.
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Leeds United F.C.

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Thin gold stripes

Leeds United F.C. is the only professional association football club in Leeds. The club was established in 1919, following the demise of Leeds City F.C. They currently play in the Football League Championship and play their home games at the Elland Road stadium.

Leeds' main rivals are Manchester United situated on the other side of the Pennines.

Table of contents
1 Recent History
2 Honours
3 Managers
4 Notable players

Recent History

The most successful period of Leeds United’s history to date was during the Don Revie era. Revie was known as the "Master", and is ranked alongside Matt Busby and Bill Shankly as one of the top managers in the game. The legend of the Don still lives on at Elland Road, with United naming the old kop after him.

Under Revie Leeds won promotion to Division 1 in the 1963-64 season; two league championships: 1968-69, 1973-1974, League Cup in 1968, Fairs Cup 1968 and 1971, FA Cup in 1972 and FA Charity Shield in 1972.

Leeds United were relegated to Division 2 (before the Premier League System) in 1982.

Leeds United have never since reached the glory days of the 60s and 70s; however, under Howard Wilkinson, Leeds won the league in the 1991-92 season before the first division made the transition into the Premiership.

In 1996 Howard Wilkinson bought Lee Sharpe, Nigel Martyn, Lee Bowyer and Ian Rush. Leeds didn’t made a promising start to the season with two wins and a draw in the first four games. However, when arch-rivals Manchester United visited Elland Road injuries to key players meant Wilkinson was forced to field a weak team and defeat against the league's top team was inevitable. Chants of "Wilkinson Out!" rang out around the stadium as Manchester United scored four goals. The board sacked Wilkinson after five games into the new season.

Leeds controversially appointed George Graham, rescuing him from the football scrap heap; Graham had been out of a job since being accused of accepting illegal payments at his former club Arsenal. When Graham arrived, he stepped into a club where the players' morale was low; he started work immediately by sorting out the team's defence and he became the "bore draw" specialist. At the start of the season, Graham brought in some bargain buys, notably Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink for £2 million (GBP). Graham introduced Australian youngster Harry Kewell from the youth team and he quickly became a fan favourite with his pace, skill, enthusiasm and eye for goal. At the end of the season Leeds booked its place in the UEFA Cup for the next season. The 1998-99 season saw Leeds scrape past Maritimo in the UEFA Cup; however, stories were circulating that George Graham had accepted an offer from Tottenham Hotspur. Graham denied this, but a week later he was indeed manager of the north London club.

Leeds searched for a new manager for weeks with Martin O'Neill seeming certain to take the job; however pressure from Leicester City fans meant O'Neill stayed on as their manager and subsequently snubbed Leeds United. Leeds opted for David O'Leary, George Graham's assistant manager.

Under O'Leary the glory days seemed likely to return. On the pitch he let his team do the talking. He introduced promising youngsters like Jonathan Woodgate, Alan Smith and Stephen McPhail to complement the likes of Harry Kewell and Ian Harte, who were already established first teamers. The fans and pundits saw a new vigorous and dynamic Leeds United side. A young and inexperienced Leeds side narrowly lost in Rome against Italian giants A.S. Roma and Leeds was unable to break the deadlock a week later at Elland Road.

With David O'Leary in charge the 1999-2000 season approached and was looking good for Leeds. O'Leary put himself across to the media as "nave" and his squad were just "babies". But those "babies" played fast-paced, attacking football under the coaching of Eddie Gray. Leeds were again paired with A.S. Roma in the UEFA Cup and they were beaten this time over two legs. The superb run in the UEFA Cup was complemented by good form in the league, with a win at Watford sending Leeds top of the league. Leeds secured 3rd place in the league that season sending the club into the Champions League for the first time. Leeds made it to the semifinal.

However, if there ever was a point in Leeds United's history that would change the club it occurred during January of 2000. Jonathan Woodgate and Lee Bowyer were involved in an incident in Leeds city centre outside the Majestyk nightclub, which left an Asian student in hospital with severe injuries. The fact that the victim of the attack was Asian meant the players, fans and the club were under the spotlight as the anti-racist industry decided that the innocent until proven guilty premise shouldn’t be applied. Leeds ever since have been labelled "racist" and "dirty" in certain tabloid newspapers, seeing a large percentage of supporters boycott the Daily Mirror. It took nearly two years to resolve as the start-stop court case came to a close. Bowyer was cleared and Woodgate convicted of affray and sentenced to community service. Bowyer played some of the finest football of his career during the trial and would often drive straight from court to play for Leeds; however, Woodgate’s form deteriorated and he had to sit out games due to pressure.

Leeds’ UEFA Cup run continued beating Slavia Praha in the quarter finals, Leeds reached their first European semi-final in 25 years and were paired against Turkish champions Galatasaray, notorious for their fanatical support. Another dark moment in Leeds’ history was around the corner when two Leeds United fans, Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight were brutally stabbed to death before the game in Istanbul. The Turkish FA and Galatasaray's actions showed how they didn’t care and ordered the game to go ahead that night, Leeds lost 2-0. The return leg in Leeds had the most charged, emotional yet poisonous atmosphere. Outside the ground saw running battles between police and fans and there were attacks on Turkish TV crews, the game saw Harry Kewell sent off and a 2-2 score wasn't enough for Leeds, as they went out of the competition.

In recent years they have been rebuilding with young players,including midfielders James Milner (born 1986), who broke Wayne Rooney's record for youngest player to score in the Premier League,and Aaron Lennon (born 1987), the youngest player ever to play in the league.

Following their appearance in the Champions League semi-final against Valencia Leeds' fortunes started to change. Although the general public were unaware, the club under the leadership of Peter Ridsdale had taken out loans worth extremely large sums of money. In reflection this was not a smart move at all. Leeds started the 2001-2002 season needing to qualify for the Champions League after missing out by one spot to Liverpool the previous season.

However this was not to be, Leeds started well and on New Years Day 2002 were on top of the Premiership. From here on things went downhill and eventually Leeds finished 5th, missing out on the much coveted Champions League spot again. Following Rio Ferdinand's strong performances at the World Cup there was rumours circulating that he would be sold. Eventually in July 2002 he was sold to Leeds' hated rivals Manchester United for a sum of approximately 30 million pounds. David O'Leary was also sacked for a number of reasons and replaced by Terry Venables. Under Venables, Robbie Keane was sold to Spurs; this was only the start of the fire sale due to increasing debts and an unsustainable wage bill. In the January 2003 transfer window Robbie Fowler, Olivier Dacourt, Lee Bowyer and Jonothan Woodgate all left the club in a bid to ease the financial burden. The sale of Woodgate particularly upset Venables, who had been promised by Ridsdale that Woodgate would not be sold. Tensions mounted between the pair, eventually resulting in the sacking of Venables, who was replaced by Peter Reid. With his no-nonsense style of management, Reid helped Leeds retain its top flight status and was given a contract. During this time the now hated Peter Ridsdale resigned from the Leeds board and was replaced by Prof. John McKenzie.

During the 2003 summer Harry Kewell controversially left Leeds for Liverpool for a paltry sum; what exactly happened is still unknown, but many Leeds fans feel Kewell and his agent Bernie Mandic acted immorally.

An unsuccessful start to the 2003/04 season saw Peter Reid dismissed, following a 1-6 defeat at Portsmouth in early November with fans' hero and former manager, Eddie Gray, taking over as caretaker manager - appointed until the end of the season.

A period of serious financial difficulty ended in early 2004 with a takeover by a consortium, led by new chairman Gerald Krasner. Nevertheless, the team continued to struggle on the field and were relegated to the Football League Championship at the end of the 2003/2004 season, ending a fourteen-year run at the highest level of the English football league system that included the first twelve seasons of the Premiership.

Following confirmation of the club's relegation, Gray's reign as caretaker manager was terminated. His former assistant, Kevin Blackwell, was appointed caretaker manager for the final match of the season,and afterward permanent manager.

Goalkeeper Paul Robinson was sold to Tottenham Hotspur at season's end, and Alan Smith to Manchester United. Dominic Matteo was sold to Blackburn Rovers, Mark Viduka was sold to Middlesbrough F.C[1], and even Milner, who Leeds had been intent on keeping, has been sold to Newcastle United[1]. In their place, Leeds has been signing players with lower wages.

Honours

Managers

Notable players

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