Former Leeds United star Mark Viduka recalls the time Elton John almost broke news of a proposed Manchester United move

Leeds United and Elton John... erm.

By Joe Urquhart
Monday, 6th April 2020, 6:08 pm
Updated Monday, 6th April 2020, 6:10 pm
Former Leeds United striker Mark Viduka. (Image: Getty)
Former Leeds United striker Mark Viduka. (Image: Getty)

Former Leeds United striker Mark Viduka has recalled the time Elton John almost broke the story he was in talks over a move to Manchester United.

Viduka joined the West Yorkshire ranks in the 2000 summer transfer window from Celtic in a deal worth £6m.

The Australian-born striker went on to make 166 appearances for the Whites during a four-year spell in LS11.

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Viduka bagged 73 goals during his stay at Elland Road, and helped the club reach new heights both domestically in the Premier League and in Europe in both the Champions League and UEFA Cup.

The now 44-year-old, though, has revealed he was one close to leaving Leeds for bitter rivals Manchester United, and the news was almost broken from an unlikely source.

"I was in Manchester, and my agent at the time also had a lot to do with Elton John," Viduka tells ESPN.

"He said stay for the night and come to the show. He had backstage passes, and I'd get the chance to meet the man for myself. It was an offer I couldn't refuse.

"So I'm there with Jacob Burns, my Leeds teammate and fellow Aussie, as we got ushered into his dressing room. As we enter, Elton swings around on a swivel chair and says, 'Mark Viduka, you're from Melbourne. I love that place!'

"I was nervous, so I babbled on about my meeting with the Red Devils that day and a possible move.

"Instead of going to our seats to watch the concert, Elton gets us to watch it at the side of the stage. About three songs in, he says, 'I want to dedicate this next one to my good friend Mark, who is in Manchester today to make a big decision.'

"I'm thinking: '****, please don't say any more!' Thank God he didn't. I didn't sign for Man United. I think I loved living in Leeds too much at the time."

Viduka also revealed he was close to making a multi-million pound move to Serie A just a year into his stay in Leeds: "I had the chance to join AC Milan at the end of the 2001 season, after we made the Champions League semi-final.

"[Leeds] were negotiating with Milan and wanted £38 million.

"I was friends with [Milan star] Zvonimir Boban at the time, and we were negotiating terms through him. In the end, [Milan] offer the £38 million, and Leeds didn't want to sell. And that was that.

"I was a huge AC Milan fan. As a kid, I grew up watching [Marco] van Basten, [Frank] Rijkaard and [Ruud] Gullit ... they were my favourite team. It just wasn't to be."