David Healy - Fans memories of a Leeds United striker with international pedigree

'Healy wants to play for Leeds’ chanted the Elland Road faithful.

Sunday, 16th May 2021, 4:30 pm
David Healy celebrates scoring against Preston North End at Deepdale in November 2004. PIC: Varley Picture Agency

And in a strong hint of his personal wishes, the Preston North End striker applauded United’s supporters as he left the pitch in October 2004. Three minutes later, Danny Pugh scored from close range to earn Kevin Blackwell's Leeds a 1-0 win.

“It was flattering to hear such vocal support but also a bit embarrassing because I’m a Preston player,” reflected Healy at the time. "I know Leeds aren’t in the Premiership or flying high like they were a few years ago but to me they’re a massive club with a lot of history and so many great players down the years.”

Less than a week later Healy, was a Leeds player.

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David Healy celebrates scoring against Ipswich Town at Portman Road in January 2006. PIC: Varley Picture Agency

He was already his country's all-time leading goalscorer when he joined and he would go on to score 31 times in 121 appearances during his three seasons with the club.

Healy's time at Leeds gave rise to a question that would crop up again elsewhere in his career, one he still cannot answer - why was he so deadly and influential for Northern Ireland and not always able to recreate that for Leeds?

“There’s been managers I’ve played under and different sets of supporters who have asked the same question. I don’t know. I’ve no idea. It wasn’t as if I was trying harder for Northern Ireland than I was for Leeds," he told the YEP's Graham Smyth in an interview in April 2020.

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Your YEP has asked the Elland Road faithful to share memories of a striker whose goals helped Leeds reach a play-off final despite finding him self regularly playing out of position.

Responses included:

Ian Taylor - "He played for Preston at Elland Road just before he signed and the Kop sang his name. He loved it and waved at the Kop from the Preston bench after being subbed."

Glenn Bugge - "I remember as I was there that day not long after he joined scoring twice v Preston. He got absolutely slaughtered by their fans all game."

Marc Langton - Winning me £300. Scoring first and beating Reading 3-1 at home. Kerching."

Ian Knight - "We live on the south coast and I took my dad up to church for the very first time. We drew 0-0 with QPR but the highlight was Healy hitting a volley outside the box and it pinged off the crossbar."

Paul Blakemore - "The last game my late father attended was against Plymouth and Healy scored a cracking chip at the Kop end. Leeds won 2-1. Before the game my dad tipped his cap to King Billy’s statue after watching him in his prime. So emotional!"

Willie McCandless - "My first ever match. Wrote bet out at hotel room. Hulsey to score first goal and Derry to score on his home debut against West Ham. Either way Hulse score typical Hulse goal cross from wing. Healy played a blinder after Marlene Harewood equalised. Healy picked up ball in middle of park and delivered Derry a peach of a pass through the midfield and Derry slotted past keeper. Never forget the day. I cried like a baby."

Tom Townend - "My dad cut my hair really short when I was a kid and to make me feel better said I looked like David Healy who was my favourite player at the time. He'd point at me and chant "Healy! Healy! Healy!". Made me love that haircut. Good save Dad."

Ian Pattison - "Scoring for Northern Ireland against England. Even though we support England, my dad and I were jumping up and down on the sofa, coz he was Leeds."

Elliott Daniels - "Very good player for us. Last minute winner against Preston is an obvious stand out. I said it at the time and I'll say it again now, he should never have started on the bench in the play off final in 2006."

David Winstanley - "Last minute header against former club PNE. Sweet, sweet moment."

David Taylor - "Cracking footballer."

Nicky Tooley - "His first game back after scoring for Northern Ireland against England and everyone singing 'Healy for England'."

Robbie Maher - "Great player at that level."

Karl West-Smith - "Clinical finisher. Would score 50 goals a season under Bielsa!"

Josh Lowe - "One of my early memories of Leeds having Healy up front! Big favourite of mine."