Nigel Martyn: Fans memories of an astute Leeds United signing

He was Leeds United's own Mr Reliable.

By Andrew Hutchinson
Saturday, 8th January 2022, 4:30 pm
Nigel Martyn. PIC: Mark Bickerdike
Nigel Martyn. PIC: Mark Bickerdike

Nigel Martyn's dependability as the last line of defence made him the club's first-choice goalkeeper for six seasons.

His consistency was such that years later at a supporters' dinner, Martyn was named officially as United's greatest ever goalkeeper, beating off competition from the likes of Gary Sprake and John Lukic - men who both won championship medals at Elland Road.

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Nigel Martyn pictured with fellow new Leeds United signings Ian Rush and Lee Bowyer at the club's pre-season photocall in August 1996.

He remains one of Leeds’ most astute signings in the modern era. He was being brought to Elland Road by Howard Wilkinson from Crystal Palace for a then record goalkeeper fee of £2.25 million in the summer of 1996.

Martyn will be remembered by a generation of supporters for string of outstanding and unforgettable performances between the sticks. One of his most notable displays of brilliance between the sticks was a man-of-the-match performance in the Stadio Olimpico against AS Roma in the 1999/2000 UEFA Cup campaign, when Leeds reached the semi-finals.

Your Yorkshire Evening Post asked the Elland Road faithful to share memories of a goalkeeper, affectionately known as Big Nige, who was restricted to 23 England caps over a decade having the misfortune of occupying David Seaman's shadow.

Responses included:

Mark Oram (@Oramic) - "No better way for Leeds to announce the signing of Martyn (whilst breaking the UK transfer record for a goalkeeper) than getting him to sit on a lawnmower! Face with tears of joy. On the pitch though, his performance away to Roma in 2000. Incredible."

Michael Bowen (@mbow50) - "He once held a door open for me, I was completely awestruck and giggled like a little girl. My favourite ever Leeds player."

AL Bryans - "Brilliant goalkeeper, that's how I remember him at Leeds."

Liam G Smith - "By far the best keeper in Leeds United history."

Paul Benson - "Roma away UEFA Cup. Best ever goalkeeper performance ever seen."

Christian Doyle - "A save at Old Trafford, I think from a Nicky Butt header was exceptional. He got injured in the process. Absolute world class save."

Ella Wild - "On his first match for Leeds United, I was about 11 years old sat behind the goal with my dad and Nigel Martyn threw his gloves over to us at the end of the match! Still have them framed!"

David Wood - "All the boys in our family bought the Nigel Martyn shirt, he was fantastic for Leeds."

Pete Bogojevic - "In my view our best keeper ever! Nige was quality."

Kevin Dwyer - "The last minute penalty save in the FA Cup at Palace. What an away day that was."

Michael Reeve - "One of my first games I can remember, he was out training before the game ball went over into the crowd I remember my old man caught it and gave it to me. Was so young didn’t really know what to do so ran it down and gave it to him. Got a rub of the head and a thumbs up. Fell in love with Leeds there and then."

Gavin Shoesmith - "Best Leeds keeper ever. Pleasure to watch him week in week out."

Richard Steventon - "A save he made at the City Ground from Brian Roy top corner was right behind it and thought that's in. Not sure how big Nige got to it."

Johnny Shearn - "When he wasn’t involved in the game as Leeds had all of the possession he used to do sprint drills in his in-goal area."

Phil B (LUSCarborough) - "The game against Roma away in the UEFA Cup 2000, was the best goalkeeping display I’ve ever witnessed in 50 years of watching live football. In my opinion, he’s the best keeper that LUFC have ever had."

Big Mal (@malgly) - "I have watched Lufc for nearly 60 years and he is the best keeper we have ever had without doubt. (Although Meslier may go on to be the best in future years if he stays and develops at his current rate)."

Nigel Scott - "The reception he got when he came back to Elland Road as an Everton player was the best I've ever heard."

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