With the football summer transfer frenzy underway and clubs shelling out vast sums of money for sometimes decidedly average players, we look at some of the best buys Leeds United have made down the years.
The pocket-sized Scot was the midfield lynchpin of the early Revie years. Signed from Everton in 1962, his battling qualities helped the club avoid relegation, then win promotion to the First Division in 1964.
He went on to make 167 appearances during his five years at the club, including the 1965 FA Cup final defeat to Liverpool. Collins, who passed away last year, played a key role in the club’s climb from Second Division obscurity to the top of the European game. It’s fitting that the Bobby Collins Way, unveiled last November, keeps the combative midfielder within sight of his spiritual home of Elland Road.
It seems a paltry amount by today’s grossly inflated standards, but the £165,000 paid to Leicester in 1969 for Allan ‘Sniffer’ Clarke was a British record fee at the time.
Don Revie wanted to build on his first championship-winning squad, and while some people in the game might have thought it was a bit of a gamble it proved to be money well spent. Over the next nine years Clarke played over 360 games and scored more than 150 goals including the only, and winning, goal against Arsenal in the 1972 FA Cup final at Wembley. Imagine how much he would be worth today.
Not too many players leave Manchester United and go on to better things. Whatever you think of Sir Alex Ferguson he was pretty shrewd at judging players, but when it came to Gordon Strachan, Fergie got it wrong. The flame-haired Scot’s patchy form for Man United convinced him to accept Howard Wilkinson’s £200,000 offer for his services in 1989. Despite the fact that he was now in his 30s Strachan still had plenty to offer and his midfield partnership with Gary Speed, David Batty and Gary McAllister helped take Leeds to the league title in 1992.
Vinnie Jones arrived at Leeds United with a ‘hard man’ reputation. As an integral part of Wimbledon’s “Crazy Gang” team who famously beat Liverpool to lift the FA Cup, the former hod carrier wasn’t afraid to get stuck in (he gained notoriety after pinching Paul Gascoigne’s privates during one match). He played up to his tough guy image and became a cult hero at Elland Road when he was signed by Howard Wilkinson back in 1989, helping the club win promotion back to the old Division One. He may have only been here for little over a year but he is still revered by fans.
Reportedly only included in the deal to keep his fellow South African happy, Radebe moved to United with Phil Masinga for just £250,000 in 1994. It proved a smart piece of business. In a sport where players are often accused of being mercenaries, Radebe, or “The Chief” as Leeds fans dubbed him, was cut from a different cloth. He went on to skipper Leeds to third in the Premier League and helped them reach the Champions League semi-finals. The fact he turned down offers from Manchester United, AC Milan and Roma cemented his place in Leeds fans’ hearts.
Most Leeds fans didn’t know too much about Tony Yeboah when he was signed for £3.4m from Eintracht Frankfurt at the start of 1995. It was a hefty price tag but one worn with ease by the Ghanian star who quickly earned cult status with United’s fans by banging in the goals. The powerful striker scored 32 times in 66 appearances for the Whites and his long-range efforts against Liverpool and Wimbledon are still regarded as among the best strikes in Premier League history. During his stint at the club he also notched a stunning hat-trick in a UEFA Cup match in Monaco. Happy days.