I thought I was getting a new contract only to be sold, reveals Leeds United academy graduate James Milner
Former Leeds United player and academy product James Milner has opened up over his exit from Elland Road revealing his move to Newcastle United came as a shock to him.
Milner, now 32, grew up watching his beloved Whites as a season ticket holder and came through the ranks at Thorp Arch making his debut for the club as a 16-year-old.
The Wortley-born star, who now plys his trade for Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool, has opened up over his exit from West Yorkshire revealing that his move to Newcastle in 2004, just two years on from his first Leeds appearance, came as a shock to him and his family believing he was set for discussions over an extended contract.
“It was a very tough time to get relegated and there were a lot of financial things going on – things in the papers, off-field problems… you had to grow up quickly by watching the senior players and how they were dealing with everything," Milner told FourFourTwo.
“As hard as it was, I learned a lot very quickly. Within two years I’d had numerous managers, and highs and lows. By the start of my second season, Peter Reid had come in and I was sent on loan to Swindon. I did quite well there, went back to Leeds and started playing in every game.
“But then, in 2004, I turned up on the first day of pre-season thinking we were going to discuss a new contract, and someone said: ‘You’re going up to Newcastle for your medical tomorrow’. I was like: ‘Am I?’ That was tough.
“It was disappointing that I didn’t get to play for Leeds for longer, but to do it at all was pretty special.”
Milner also revealed he gave up any money the club owed him to help with the financial worries upon his exit: "What little money the club owed me, I gave up to help them, and they got a transfer fee.
“So it was portrayed to me that it was in the best interests of the club [for me to leave] due to all of the financial difficulties. I thought I was going the right thing by the club.”