Luciano Becchio's Leeds United declaration evokes memories ahead of Brighton visit

Luciano Becchio said his love for Leeds United only grew stronger in tough times this week.

By Lee Sobot
Sunday, 15th May 2022, 4:45 am

"In bad time I love you even more."

The club’s former Argentine striker made the declaration after Wednesday’s defeat to Chelsea left the Whites clinging on to their top-flight status with two games to go.

Brighton will provide United’s penultimate opponents at Elland Road tomorrow - a side that Becchio himself was netting against 13 and a half years ago on United’s early road back to the country’s top flight.

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STRIKE! Luciano Becchio fires Leeds United ahead against Brighton in the Elland Road clash of October 2008 back at a time when the Whites and Seagulls were in League One. Picture by Anna Gawthorpe/PA Wire.

Back then, on Saturday, October 11 2008, Becchio’s strike was followed by a double salvo from fellow forward Jermaine Beckford as Leeds beat the Seagulls 3-1 at Elland Road to move third in League One.

Becchio had only arrived at the club three months earlier, joining the Whites initially on trial from Spanish side Merida.

The striker then signed for the club permanently on a three-year deal the following month and by the time October’s clash against Brighton materialised he had already hit the goal trail as part of United’s second season in English football’s third tier.

The Whites had been relegated from the Championship at the end of the 2006-07 campaign and the first attempt at being promoted back to the second tier ended with defeat to Doncaster Rovers in the play-offs final under Gary McAllister who had replaced the outgoing Dennis Wise who departed for Newcastle United as director or football.

The following season would also end with more play-offs pain via defeat to Millwall in the semi-finals under Simon Grayson who was then in charge as McAllister was axed towards the end of December.

But Leeds were still ticking along under McAllister two months earlier as Becchio’s strike followed by Beckford’s race sealed a sixth win of the campaign in their tenth game.

The Whites had only lost twice, at home to Oldham Athletic in the second game of the season and away at Peterborough United in the league game that preceded the home date against Brighton.

United had followed the 2-0 loss at Peterborough with another defeat, at Rotherham United in the Football League Trophy.

But McAllister’s Whites bounced back against a Brighton side who were a million miles away from the ninth-placed Premier League outfit that they are today.

The Seagulls were in their third consecutive season in English football’s third tier and the previous campaign had ended with a seventh-placed finish under Dean Watkins whose side missed out on the play-offs by a place and seven points.

Micky Adams then replaced Watkins in the dugout for the following campaign which would only yield a 16th-placed finish.

The Brighton side that lined up at Elland Road featured a 34-year-old Robbie Savage and also Glenn Murray who bagged their only goal of the game.

But Leeds were already home and hosed by the time Murray netted in second-half stoppage time and in control by the interval thanks to a goal each from Becchio and Beckford.

Leeds lined up with an XI of David Lucas, Rui Marques, Aidy White, Frazer Richardson, Lubomir Michalik, Jonathan Douglas, Fabian Delph, Neil Kilkenny, Andy Hughes, Beckford and Becchio.

Today’s Sky presenter and YEP columnist David Prutton sat on the bench along with Robert Snodgrass, Jonny Howson, Andy Robinson and ‘keeper Casper Ankergren.

Brighton looked like they were heading into the interval all square but Leeds had other ideas and Becchio fired the Whites into a 44th-minute lead when converting at the second attempt.

Just one minute later, Beckford got in on the act as he headed home a cross from young star Delph.

At just 18 years of age, Delph also set up United’s third and final goal in the last minute of the second half for Beckford to double his tally as McAllister’s Whites marched on, at least for the time being.