We continue our countdown of Elland Road cult heroes. Who is in at number 10?
The story of Luciano Becchio and Leeds United could not have a more different beginning and end.
He turned up for a trial during a pre-season tour of Ireland with only a pair of boots and left shortly after scoring his 75th goal to become one of the club’s top ten league goalscorers of all time.
Becchio was not the most skillful striker Leeds have ever had, but he guaranteed goals, and there are few better ways to endear yourself to the fans of a football club than putting the ball in the back of the net.
The Argentine was at the centre of some of the better moments Leeds enjoyed during his spell at the club.
Who can forget his strike against Millwall in the play-off semi-final, finishing off a swooping move with a diving finish that tore the roof off Elland Road?
Over and over again, Becchio scored that same goal, there in the right place at the right time in front of the South Stand. After he replicated the strike against Wolves at the start of Neil
Warnock’s tenure, an article in Leeds fanzine The Square Ball suggested that Becchio was chasing his own ghost around Elland Road.
It happened again against Champions League holders Chelsea in the League Cup, although Leeds lost that game 5-1.
There were other ludicrous goals, like his 20 minute hat-trick against Bristol City from the bench, or the flying left-footed volley against Middlesbrough that crashed against the post before flying into the back of the net.
Beyond that, there was the way Becchio would emerge from games battered and bruised, having fought tooth and nail to try and win three points.
Simon Grayson revealed at a fan’s event that he had to occasionally take Becchio out of the line of fire, purely because his exertions on the pitch for Leeds risked injury. He called him his
Matador, but there were times at which he was more bull, throwing himself around the pitch and into defenders.
A case in point, Becchio had two black eyes when he scored the hat-trick against Bristol City.
Even now, Becchio’s love for Leeds is clear from his Twitter account. That love flows back, and it’s hard to picture a day when Becchio’s availability is not debated over by Leeds fans online.
Becchio revealed recently that he is planning to visit Elland Road in the new year, having left Belgrano after a short spell there, and there’s no doubt that he’ll be afforded a hero’s welcome upon his return.