Leeds United Nostalgia: Former keeper Schmeichel was upset with decision to sell him
THE prospect of big-money offers for Leeds United striker Chris Wood this summer is obvious.
Slamming in 30 goals in one season – becoming only the sixth player in United’s history to so – does not go unnoticed.
And neither did the form of goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel who was sold to Leicester City in controversial circumstances for six years ago tomorrow.
Leeds had signed the son of Manchester United shotstopper Peter the previous summer with the Dane arriving at Elland Road from former club Notts County on a two-year deal.
The keeper had been signed by Manchester City as a 15-year-old in September 2002 but had loan spells at Darlington, Bury, Falkirk, Cardiff City and Coventry City before eventually signing for County in August 2009.
And after blossoming in Nottinghamshire, in stepped Leeds with whom the custodian excelled as the club narrowly missed out on the play-offs in finishing seventh.
Schmeichel quickly made the no 1 jersey his own and, even with two months out with a foot injury, the Dane played 40 games for the Whites who missed out on a play-offs place by three points to sixth-placed Nottingham Forest.
And Leeds then surprisingly announced on June 20 that the club had accepted an undisclosed seven-figure bid for the shotstopper from Leicester City who had finished three places and five points behind United in tenth.
Five years later, the Foxes and Schmeichel were celebrating the amazing feat of winning the Premier League while United were still stuck in the second tier of English football.
Explaining the situation after United had accepted the Foxes’ bid, chairman Ken Bates revealed: “We’ve decided that we’re going to sign two new goalkeepers and Kasper will not be first choice.
“Now he has a decision to make.
“He either accepts that he’s out of the limelight for a year or he goes to Leicester or another club that comes in for him.
“We will be moving on.”
United boss Simon Grayson, who had already negotiated a deal to bring 30-year-old Paul Rachubka from Blackpool to Elland Road, was interested in Huddersfield Town’s Alex Smithies and Burnley’s Lee Grant, while Newcastle United youngster Fraser Forster was also being linked with a switch to West Yorkshire.
United instead went on to sign Andy Lonergan from Preston North End and Maik Taylor from Birmingham City.
And Schmiechel did indeed sign for Leicester who announced the signature of the 24-year-old on a three year deal for June 27.
Naturally, the departure was not without its controversy.
Speaking before he had signed for Leicester but after the bid had been accepted, Schmeichel said: “I want to put on record that I have never asked to leave Leeds United.
“Nor did I reject an offer of a new contract, since one was never put to me.”
Whites boss Grayson had reasoned: ”We feel this is the right deal for the club.
“We spoke to Kasper’s agent at the end of the season about a contract extension and it was apparent that it was going to be difficult.”
Schmeichel insisted: “It is with great disappointment that I have learned that Leeds United have accepted an offer from Leicester. I was enjoying being a Leeds United player and was looking forward to winning promotion this season with the club.
“I have spoken to the manager Simon Grayson and he has made it clear to me, that, in spite of having played well for him, this is something he believes is a good deal for Leeds United.
“I have been put in a very difficult situation and will spend some time considering my options for my future.”
Leicester was to prove the keeper’s next port of call and, long term, it is no secret what happened next for the Foxes under Claudio Ranieri.