Former Leeds United star claims previous boardroom figure ‘ordered’ his transfer exit

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A former Leeds United player has opened up on the previous regime at Leeds United.

Former Leeds United star Mirco Antenucci has opened up on his bitter Elland Road exit. The veteran striker enjoyed a relatively successful spell with Leeds, scoring 19 times in 75 appearances between 2014 and 2016.

He was signed under the Massimo Celino regime at Elland Road, joining from Temana and he went on to win a nomination for the club’s player of the year award in his second season.

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Antenucci scored nine league goals in that second season, but he saw his game time reduced significantly late in the campaign. The striker started the vast majority of Championship games in the first half of the season, and he was given a run of starts in the March, scoring four and assisting one in the space of three games.

But after a run of six starts, and that good form, he started two of the last seven games, and he claims that was because of his contract situation, something that was heavily reported at the time.

Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport, via SportWitness, Antenucci has claimed he had an automatic contract extension in place in the case he reached a certain amount of goals. He says he was prevented from reaching that required figure by those upstairs at Elland Road.

“If I had scored 12 goals in my second year at Leeds, I would have had the automatic renewal,” the striker said. “In December I was already at 8 and then Cellino, owner of the club, ordered not to play me anymore. I managed to reach ten before returning to Italy.”

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Antenucci went on to leave Leeds that summer, returning to Italy to join SPAL on a free transfer.

Mirco Antenucci celebrates scoring Leeds United's second goal against Huddersfield Town at Elland Road in September 2014. The Whites won 3-0 PIC: Bruce RollinsonMirco Antenucci celebrates scoring Leeds United's second goal against Huddersfield Town at Elland Road in September 2014. The Whites won 3-0 PIC: Bruce Rollinson
Mirco Antenucci celebrates scoring Leeds United's second goal against Huddersfield Town at Elland Road in September 2014. The Whites won 3-0 PIC: Bruce Rollinson

He scored 34 times in 105 league appearances for SPAL, joining current club Bari in 2019. Antenucci has since scored an impressive 51 goals in 94 league appearances, and he is still going at the age of 38.

The striker previously criticised Celino’s regime, saying: “From the point of view of football I discovered a new reality, different from ours. They have a way around them to live football, playing facilities which are beautiful and always full, training facilities which are large and modern.

“Instead, what disappointed me was the corporate organisation of Leeds, which has been lacking in the past two years. It is a club that for the supporters and the badge deserves to always play in the Premier League.

“To do that you need to give the players the best conditions, something that has not always happened. Then I was disappointed also with the quality of the coaches who took turns [at the club].”

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