Leeds United super fan from New Zealand who named his son after the club 'in tears' after visit to Elland Road
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He has since made the 24,000 mile trip six times to stay in the city and watch the team play – including three visits in the 80s when the club arranged for him to have a kickabout with the players and meet the likes of Billy Bremner and Allan Clarke.
In fact, Paul’s love of the club stretches so far that he decided to give his son Daniel the middle name ‘Leeds’.
Paul has now returned to Leeds this week for the first time since 2016 and will be in attendance for the home tie against West Bromwich Albion on Friday.
Speaking upon his arrival in the UK, Paul said: “It’s good to be home.”
He said that on his first full day in the city he made a trip to the stadium, saying: “I went straight down to the club shop and spent £300 on some gear. It’s my life.
"I got there this morning and thought I would have a few tears and to be honest I did. Living so far away and not having the opportunity to travel once or twice a year – it was an emotional feeling.
"Standing at the Billy Bremner statue – the ‘you are home’ feeling really hit because of that passion and love I have for the club.”
Paul picked the club as his go-to team after watching the 1973 FA Cup final, saying: “I chose Leeds and my brother chose Sunderland and the rest is history!”
Paul explained that after falling in love with the club he wrote to them expressing his intention to visit and received a response from the commercial manager promising the utmost hospitality when he did.
The club took every possible step to make Paul welcome when he visited as a 17-year-old in 1981; allowing him to meet the players and have a kickaround with them while they trained at Fullerton Park. As it was during the winter season a snowball fight ensued that included the then-manager Allan Clarke. He also took a few penalties against the club’s reserve goalkeeper at the time, David Seaman.
During another visit in 1987 Paul had a meal organised with club legend Billy Bremner, who was a manager at the time, which he said was the “highlight” of his visits.
Paul was unable to visit the city through the 90s and 2000s while domestic life took precedent, but the club was always close at hand, whether it be through watching the games or through naming his son Daniel Leeds Smith.
Asked what his partner’s reaction was, he said: “She was quite cool about it because it kind of suits him!
"He’s always got a lot of banter over it but it’s marvellous.”
Daniel has also been brought up as a Leeds fan and hopes to make the trip with his dad some day. Paul said: “He was due to come over a few years ago but it got put on hold due to Covid.”
Paul’s last three visits to the city were in 2012, 2015 and 2016, during the club’s less fortunate years. Asked what he made of the club’s current fortunes and the last few years of football, he said: “It’s gut wrenching to be honest. The Bielsa years were amazing – a dream come true for a Leeds fan.
"Then there was hard times and Bielsa got the boot and they have just gone down hill from there. But what the hell, we’re still Leeds mate and we live to fight another day.”
Asked for his thoughts on the club’s latest manager Daniel Farke, he said: “I’ve always had a soft spot for him. He’s a good manager and knows how to get teams promoted. Hopefully he can do the same with us.
"This season will be tough with certain players not wanting to play for the club because they think they can go elsewhere and do better but I just hope we can crack on and get a few signings on the board.”
Paul, who leaves the country on September 6, is also still trying to arrange a ticket for the home game against Sheffield Wednesday on September 2.