Fans memories of Ian Harte - Leeds United's free kick specialist

He was the set-piece specialist whose free kicks were in a different league.

Saturday, 14th November 2020, 4:30 pm
Ian Harte hits a free kick to score against Deportivo La Coruna during the Champions League quarter-final first leg clash at Elland Road in April 2001. PIC: Getty
Ian Harte hits a free kick to score against Deportivo La Coruna during the Champions League quarter-final first leg clash at Elland Road in April 2001. PIC: Getty

Ian Harte was a rare breed of full-back who combined his defensive role with an inspirational streak and certain goals timed to perfection.

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Indeed 'inspirational' was the word used by two Leeds United managers to describe him. David O’Leary used the term after Harte scored a crucial free-kick against Anderlecht in the Champions League in early 2001, and again when the left back tore apart Deportivo La Coruna by crashing one goal in off the crossbar and teeing up two more for Alan Smith and Rio Ferdinand.

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Ian Harte celebrates with his team-mates after scoring against Portsmouth during the FA Cup fourth round clash at Fratton Park in January 1999. Leeds won 5-1.

And Peter Reid also lauded him for the strike which helped to stave off relegation against Arsenal towards the end of the 2002/03 season.

The game as a whole took notice of him too. In 1999-2000 he was named as the Premiership’s best left-back.

Your YEP has asked the Elland Road faithful to share their memories of a player who posed a threat with anything around the 18-yard line and was also a useful penalty taker too.

Responses included:

Jessica Wilson - "Seeing him in a pre-season friendly at Ewood Park against Blackburn Rovers and him scoring four free kicks. Even the Rovers fans were applauding him by the fourth!"

Dennis Randall - "One of the best left backs of his generation and a great free kick taker. Also a top bloke."

Sy Potter - "Absolute wand of a left foot and a talent for free kicks. The most memorable two that spring to mind are Man Utd, and Deportivo La Coruña. Also definitely worth a mention was the goal against derby where he cuts inside and smashes it with his RIGHT foot."

Matthew Stubbs - "My idol growing up and one of the best left backs and free kick takers of that time."

Steven McDade - "A pile driver of a left foot, great on the ball, great servant to the club."

Liam Berry - "Walked back down Wembley way back to the tube station with him after 1996 league cup final. He was only an apprentice then. He was a great bloke."

Al Bryans - "Scored some fantastic goals from free kicks. Top man."

Stephen Kelly - "Best free kick expert I have seen in a Leeds shirt."

Richard Bainbridge - "One of the best ever free kick takers you will ever see. Better than Beckham."

Raymond O'Leary - "Great left peg."

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Laura Collins