Leeds United: Veteran Brown just wants to play on

Michael Brown.
Michael Brown.
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Michael Brown vowed to continue his playing career for another year regardless of whether Leeds United offer him a new contract after reaching the end of his deal with an ageless display against Derby County.

The 37-year-old defied his reputation as a footballing veteran to dominate a 1-1 draw at Elland Road on Saturday, but the appearance could be his last for Leeds with his contract about to expire.

Brown, who joined Leeds on a two-year deal in 2011 and stayed on this season after earning an appearance-related extension, is among a large group of players who are unsure of the futures with the Championship season over.

United did not announce a retained list before Saturday’s match and their owner, Massimo Cellino, is still to make a firm decision on the fate of the squad and manager Brian McDermott.

Brown said he would take an uncertain situation “in his stride” but dismissed the possibility of him retiring, saying he believed he had at least one more season in him 19 years on from his debut for Manchester City.

“At 37 you take it in your stride whichever way it’s going to be,” Brown said.

“For the last few years I’ve been here to help, to play some games – whether that’s 20 minutes here or there – and to help around the dressing room. That’s what I think I’ve done and I hope I still show a good example. Long may it continue.

“But I want to carry on playing. I don’t want to just step down and do some coaching. I want to play another year, maybe with a bit of coaching on top. If it’s here then we’ll have that conversation but I’m not sure what direction the club are going in at the moment. Only time will tell.

“I’ve just enjoyed it day-to-day and I’m looking forward to the summer.”

McDermott’s squad has already begun breaking up, with on-loan winger Jimmy Kebe sent back to Crystal Palace last week and goalkeeper Jack Butland returning to Stoke City after completing his spell at Leeds on Saturday.

The England goalkeeper was beaten after six minutes by a bundled finish from Simon Dawkins but Leeds controlled much of the game, including most of the second half, and Matt Smith equalised with a nicely-taken goal five minutes after the interval.

Brown fought a running battle with Derby’s Will Hughes, a midfielder 18 years his junior, and gradually played the England Under-21 international out of a lively, end-to-end contest.

“I’m not sure about that,” said Brown afterwards. “He’s a good young player. It was just about me enjoying the game in case it was my last at Leeds.

“It was a good atmosphere and a good game to play in, although we wanted to win it. It’s a shame that we didn’t. It’s been a difficult season with ups and downs, personnel changes and uncertainty around the place and we need some stability for sure.”

Brown played 19 times this season, returning to United’s line-up regularly at the start of April as Leeds tried to stave off the threat of relegation. Saturday’s draw left the club 15th in the final Championship table.

Three wins from four games preceded the last match of the term and Brown said: “It’s a shame that I haven’t played as much as I would have liked but we’ve come in, us seniors, when we’ve needed a few results and we’ve done okay considering we’ve not played too many games.

“We’ve won three and got a draw from the last five so the end’s not been too bad.

“I still love it and I want to carry on. You’ve just got to look after yourself, stay fit and be headstrong.

“People have to know what it is that you bring too. It’s not always about flair but sometimes an understanding of how to win games and organise. As you get older, you’ve got to do that.”

Leeds United fans celebrate their victory over Middlesbrough at Elland Road. (Picture: PA)

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