Adam Clayton has described the “hammer blow” of learning that he was to be sold by Leeds United as part of the close-season overhaul carried out by Elland Road manager Neil Warnock.
The midfielder admitted that United’s decision to transfer-list him and sell him to Huddersfield Town had come as a “shock to the system” following his first full season as a senior player at Leeds.
Clayton was almost ever present in United’s starting line-up during the 2011-12 term, playing 46 times, but he was the unexpected inclusion in a group of six squad members placed on the transfer list by Warnock at the end of the season.
The Leeds boss made Clayton available due to a shortage of transfer funds at Elland Road, and Huddersfield manager Simon Grayson paid £400,000 to take the England Under-20 international to the John Smith’s Stadium.
Clayton is set to start against Leeds in Saturday’s West Yorkshire derby having completed a one-match ban during Huddersfield’s defeat to Middlesbrough on Tuesday.
Clayton said: “I went into (Warnock’s) office expecting the end-of-season chat and he said ‘I’m selling you.’
“It was quite a shock to the system and I was quite upset on the way home. I didn’t think I was going to go.
“It was slightly weird. I’d been looking at houses in Leeds and it was a case of walking into the meeting laughing and discussing what everyone else was discussing – which was ‘who do you think are the players he’s letting go?’ I wasn’t expecting the old hammer blow.
“He said he was more than happy to keep me but he got an attractive enough offer to let me go. I decided to leave and I’m very thankful to have come to a place on the up.”
Warnock admitted that he sold Clayton with reluctance, choosing to sacrifice a player who was entering into the final year of his deal with Leeds and locked in contract negotiations with the club.
“In an ideal world I don’t think I’d have let him go,” Warnock said. “But we needed to generate some funds.
“The opportunity came up and funding was tight so anything I could get for players, I had to take it.
“Also, the contract Adam was wanting we couldn’t afford to give him at that time.
“He’s a good player and I think it was the best thing that could have happened to him.
“It gave him a bit of a kick and now he’s being himself. He’s a flamboyant player who gets stuck in. With him living over that way too, it ticked all the boxes.”
Clayton held two rounds of talks with United but failed to finalise terms on a new deal at Elland Road.
Sources close to him claimed in the summer that he had never received an official offer to extend his contract.
The former Manchester City trainee moved on to Huddersfield in July, two years after joining Leeds.
Clayton, 23, said: “It was nothing to do with my terms or anything like that. The gaffer agreed to what I wanted and he went in to try and do it. It broke down a bit higher up I think and we had to part ways in the end.
“It was one of those things and life goes on. It worked out alright in the end.
“I loved it at Leeds, especially the second season when I was playing most games. It was a great club to be at.
“When you’re winning at Leeds United there’s no better place to be.
“But when you’re losing, there’s probably no worse place to be.
“I look back at the pictures and I always smile when I see them. But I’m onto a new chapter now and enjoying it at Huddersfield.”