'I watch the video now and again' - Kemar Roofe explains an unforgettable Leeds United moment to Whites enthusiast Ally McCoist

Kemar Roofe will never forget his stoppage-time double for Leeds United in their dramatic December 2018 win over Blackburn Rovers.

Friday, 26th March 2021, 3:06 pm
Updated Friday, 26th March 2021, 3:10 pm
FOND MEMORY - Kemar Roofe heading in the stoppage time winner for Leeds United against Blackburn Rovers. Pic: Getty

The former Whites striker revisits footage of that Boxing Day Championship thriller from time to time, to re-live scenes that prompted Marcelo Bielsa to say 'nothing compares to football.'

Leeds, who required a 95th-minute Roofe winner three days earlier against Aston Villa, found themselves 2-1 down to Rovers when Charlie Mulgrew scored a free-kick in the final minute at Elland Road.

But Roofe equalised from close range and then headed in to make it 3-2 in the 94th minute. It was Leeds' seventh straight win and took them three points clear of Norwich City at the top of the table.

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"It was moving for all of us," Bielsa said afterwards. "Football can give these emotions. That is why nothing compares to football."

Rangers forward Roofe, speaking on the Super 6 Podcast with Laura Woods and Ally McCoist, recalled: "It's one of the days I'll never forget in football.

"Scoring a goal during a comeback when we need to win, at home, last minute, it went crazy. I watch the video now and again of that goal and the celebrations. All of our players were just running in different directions. It was class."

Roofe joined Leeds from Oxford in the summer of 2016, although he was aware of the possibility of a move to Elland Road midway through a 2015/16 season that saw him and Michael Appleton's U's finish second to earn promotion to League One.

"I knew there was some interest in January," said Roofe.

"Michael Appleton said no, we need you, we need to get promoted so it's not happening, but at the end of the season it's a different story and I can sit down and help you choose where you want to go. He helped me, he knew the teams that were interested and helped me choose.

"At the start of the season I had two aims, I wanted to get promoted and I wanted to be the best player in the league as well. I needed to play the full season. I knew if I kept doing what I needed to do, the interest would still be there at the end of the season and it was."

Roofe's big move to the Championship didn't initially yield the kind of success he was after, however.

"I went to Leeds and I kept getting played left wing and that first season was very defensive minded," he said.

"I found it very difficult to adjust to that formation, that style of play. All I wanted to do was go forward and have a bit of a free role. That season I got a lot of assists but I only scored three. It took me a long time to get that first goal. I don't know if I was trying too hard to score. It took halfway through the second season at Leeds to prove I could play as a number nine and that took Chris Wood to get his move to Burnley and another striker to be injured."

Fourteen goals in 39 appearances in his second season were followed by 15 in 34 during Bielsa's first year in charge at Elland Road, and a run to the play-off semi-finals. Roofe scored the only goal of the game in Leeds' 1-0 semi-final first leg win over Derby County.

But the injury problems that had kept him out of 14 Championship fixtures during the season cropped up again, leaving him bitterly disappointed to miss a second leg that was lost 4-2.

"We just missed out on automatic promotion which was difficult to take but we all regrouped, got together and said we could still do it in the play-offs," he said.

"We showed it in the first leg, went to their place and managed to get a goal. We were ready for the next game. I knew there was a tightness in my leg and it wouldn't be good. I was telling everyone it would be fine but I knew in the back of my head it wouldn't be. You don't want to be missing those big games, it's why you play football, to compete, show how good you are or get that bit of glory for yourself and the club, especially a club like Leeds that demands and deserves so much. I thought this was our chance to achieve something massive."

Roofe moved on in the summer when Leeds accepted a bid from Anderlecht but he has gone on record many times about the gratitude he feels towards Bielsa for what the Argentine taught him during that single season together.

"I developed robustness to know you can keep going, keep working like a machine, you don't really need to take a rest," he said.

"You have to be fit, you have to keep running. You can see when Leeds play, you don't see anyone walking or jogging, it's a full sprint. You sprint to the ball, if it gets passed you sprint to get back in position. I learnt that side of things, I can push my body even further.

"With Bielsa, understanding the game even more, how simple to make the game, even down to formations. I bet if you asked a lot of players or fans about formations, explain formations, they won't really know how to break them down. Until working with Bielsa I didn't really know how important different formations were. Working with him made it so clear. You think it's genius, but it's probably just simple to him."

When Rangers legend McCoist brought the conversation to today's Leeds side in the Premier League, both he and Roofe were agreed on how good they have been to watch since their promotion.

"I just love watching them, it doesn't matter who the opposition is, I just love their style of play and their attitude to play," said McCoist.

"I think they've been a breath of fresh air this year."

Roofe added: "I love watching them play, even though I'm nervous watching because you don't know what's going to happen, you know it's going to be entertaining."