Mel Sterland - Leeds United fans memories of 'Zico'

He was 'Zico', the marauding right back with an eye for goal.

Monday, 22nd March 2021, 8:19 am
Mel Sterland. PIC: Varley Picture Agency

Mel Sterland joined the Whites in July 1989 from Glasgow Rangers and linked up with his former Sheffield Wednesday manager Howard Wilkinson who was building a side geared for promotion.

And he became an immediate immediate favourite with the Elland Road faithful thanks to his attacking prowess as a set piece wizard and point point crosses combined with energetic and dynamic defensive performances.

He netted five goals in 42 league games as the Whites sealed promotion back to the First Division after an eight year hiatus.

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Mel Sterland. PIC: Varley Picture Agency

He also played a part in Leeds making an immediate impact on their return to the top flight as they finished fourth. And the best was yet to come as he played a major part in helping the club win the First Division title, contributing six goals in 31 league games.

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Sterland played three games in the new Premier League before suffering an ankle injury in the autumn of 1992, an injury from which he never recovered.

Your YEP has asked the Elland Road faithful to share memories of Zico, a player whose contribution to the cause will never be forgotten by a generation of supporters who were Whites watching at the back end of the 1980s and into the early 1990s.

Responses included:

John Dickerson - "What a legend. Remembered when he signed from Rangers. Knew Wilko had it sorted."

Ken Richardson "Mel was awesome for Leeds and had a terrific ability when shooting."

Sarah Steve Scrimshaw - "Proper right back. Employed to defend and no tippy tippy around their box. First time cross to a bloke who could head."

Tony Watkinson - "Free-kick away against Sheffield United. I was right behind it in the away end. What a strike."

Paul Wilkinson - "Mel's goal against Leicester at Elland Road will always stand out in my mind. Great at free kicks and such a character in the dressing room and such a friendly guy."

Iain Plenderleith - "Massively underated crosser of a ball. Always knew where Chappy was."

Crike C Rombie - "Scored the only goal in my first ever Leeds match - away to Sunderland at Roker Park. We were struggling to contain ourselves as we were in the home section."

Charles Griffin - "Zico. 90 miles an hour no-nonsense defender all wrapped up in one. Scored some great goals. Honest player. Top Leeds player."

Liam Chapman - "Used to run up then stop when taking throw-ins."

Wayne Hicken - "Zico, one of best crossers of a ball I've ever seen - class."

Steve Nicolson - "Equalising penalty against Manchester United at home."

Martin Barratt - " That cross for Ian Baird against Newcastle. Brilliant."

Tony Conway - "What player. His throw-ins were spectacular."

John Woodhead - "Sheff Utd away. Was there. Leeds end. Great goal. Zico, Zico."

Gary Manser (@Gazm1971) - "Scoring the opening goal in the critical promotion game v Leicester at Elland Road in 1990 and the roof coming off the place! Still the most intense atmosphere I have ever experienced at a game."

Lew Bridges (@Bridgeo_116) - "My main memory is being an nine-year-old and seeing Zico get hold of the Division 1 trophy, then play up to the Kop before raising it high."

Michael Cowgill (@michaelcowgill) - "My firstt ever Leeds United live game was Mel's testimonial match. We lost 7-2 to Sheffield Wednesday. Can't have been that bad though. I'm still All Leeds roughly 30 years later."#

Greg Kemp (@Gregkem52072082) - ·"He's a no nonsense player who always gave 200 per cent. Never a great technically gifted player but for what he lack in the technical department he made up for with his heart and desire."

Andy P (@ArcticReviews) - "Throwing his kit into the away end at Forest, last game of the 90-91 season. Seem to remember he was down his trolleys by the end."

Gary Widdop (@garywidd) - "Pre-season friendly. He goes down in front of the kop. All players waving frantically at the bench. Trainer comes hurtling onto the pitch gets about two yards from Zico and up he jumps and trots off. Cue players wetting themselves as trainer trudges back to the dugout."

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