Leeds United academy graduate James Milner opens up over Elland Road exit

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Former Leeds United academy graduate James Milner has revealed that he believed he was "doing the right thing" with his exit from the club 14 years ago.

Milner, who rose through the Whites academy ranks at Thorp Arch, left Elland Road for Newcastle United in 2004 amid United's financial crisis following relegation from the Premier League.

James Milner.

James Milner.

The now 32-year-old was handed his senior debut at the age of just 16 by Leeds and in November 2002 became the second youngest player to appear in the English top flight.

Just a month later he was the youngest player to score in the Premier League in a 2-1 win over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light but it is a goal against Chelsea just days later that United fans will remember more than most.

Milner collected the ball and created a yard of space away from Blues defender Marcel Desailly and curled a fine shot inside the post from 18 yards as Leeds went on to stun Chelsea 2-0 at Elland Road.

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The Liverpool midfielder, who is still held in high regard in West Yorkshire, has now opened up over his exit from his boyhood club revealing that he believed it was in the best interest of Leeds United for him to move on.

“What little money the club owed me I gave up to help them and they got a transfer fee," he told FourFourTwo magazine.

"So it was portrayed to me that it was in the best interests of the club due to all the financial difficulties. I thought I was doing the right thing by the club.

“It was very tough to get relegated and there were a lot of financial things going on.”