Leeds United: Carole keeping it in the United family

Seb Carole with former United team-mate Bradley Johnson

Seb Carole with former United team-mate Bradley Johnson

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The French winger on turning over the -15 points deduction with Dennis Wise and how is own son is now on United’s books too. Leon Wobschall reports.

FOR SEB CAROLE, his Leeds United career may have been a case of ‘if only’ – but another by the same name is keeping the family flag flying.

French by birth he may be, with his Gallic accent unmistakable, but Carole has become an adopted Yorkshireman, having lived here for almost a decade.

Despite just spending two years there, the Whites remain a firm part of Carole’s life, with his 10-year-old son Keenan now living his dreams and his own in the process at Leeds United’s academy.

Maybe, just maybe, another Carole will be crossing the white line at Elland Road one day in the future.

Carole, 32, who still lives in the Leeds area, said: “It’s around 10 years since I moved here and my own son plays at the club now for the under-11s and I am settled in the area.

“I still love going to watch them play and my son loves Leeds. I hope that one day he will play on that pitch.

“Look at it now, there’s five or six academy players in the first team and two or three around the bench and they are all doing really well.

“That’s why I love Redders (head coach Neil Redfearn)and he is doing a massive job. I really hope he stays.”

Carole headed to Leeds in the summer of 2006 from Brighton with his time at the club somewhat tumultuous.

The man who signed him in Kevin Blackwell soon left and was replaced by Dennis Wise, who failed to stop Leeds suffering the ignominy of relegation to the third tier at the end of 2006-07.

But the season after, when Leeds, railing against the injustice of a hefty points penalty, delivered the equivalent of a V-sign to the Football League in a collective display of defiance, was a time which Carole is more inclined to remember.

Even if Carole left the club at the start of the following campaign, those memories are still etched into his soul.

More especially since the season proved a mini-renaissance in his Leeds career under Wise, with their relationship not exactly starting off on the right footing.

On his move to Leeds and on a roller-coaster of a time at the club, Carole said: “It came as a surprise.

“I was on holiday after the season finished and I got a phone call from a friend of mine saying Leeds United had had a bid accepted and I said: ‘How do you know that? I don’t know that myself!’ But I contacted my agent and he got this information.

“How can you turn down a club like Leeds United? A big club with a big history.

“Brighton was a lovely club and I loved the time there. But at that time, Brighton had gone down to League One and Leeds almost won the play-offs and were playing in the Championship.

“Kevin Blackwell signed me and it is sad when a manager who wants you and when you are soon into a club, and maybe an important signing, then goes a few months later. When a new manager comes in, you are thinking: ‘Oh my God, what is going to happen now?’

“What can you do? That’s football, it happens every day, every season. Managers come and go.

“We tried to save the club, but I don’t know what happened.

“We kept working hard. It was a strange season, we tried to play good football and we didn’t get what we deserved. We tried to play counter-attacking football, but sometimes you need to win 1-0 and be ugly.

“It ended up not working well.

“Wisey and I did not start well together and he did not want to know about me. His words were: ‘Seb is going to be one of the talented players in the club, but he’s French and a little bit lazy.’

“That was his judgement, but sometimes you don’t have time to know players.

“But what I appreciate about Wisey – and I love him for this and have since got in touch with him – was that he got to know me and he changed his mind.

“In the following season, I started the games in League One and kept working and the manager rewarded people who worked hard.

“One of games that I remember was the first game of that season when I didn’t play, but was on the bench, at Tranmere away.

“I remember we came back from 1-0 down to win 2-1 with a last-minute goal from TK (Tresor Kandol) and the atmosphere in the game was terrific and you could see how much it meant to us.

“When we came back for pre-season, you should have seen the work that we did together to build for the season and the atmosphere around the club and the togetherness to get out of the situation was fantastic.

“It was like a big family with the fans and we were all in it together.”

That sense of togetherness and solidarity with the legions of Leeds fans that year is what Carole will take away from his time at the club and remain a source of pride in his career.

Carole, who has represented Knaresborough Town and Guiseley in recent years, added: “They are really special supporters and you look at the support they gave to the club, we just loved it. In League One, getting 32,000 people coming to a game and supporting us... It was a fantastic feeling.

“You used to walk down the corridor at Elland Road and you would go out on the pitch and look around the fans and think: ‘This is my job.’

“It was a job and not a hobby, but you still enjoyed it.

“For what we gave the fans, they gave it us all back as well.”

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