In the 92-year history of Leeds United, scores of unquestionably brilliant footballers have spent time at the club. Some made themselves heroes and legends in the eyes of the Elland Road faithful, while others departed for (debatably) bigger things or for the promise of more money, usually to a hail of boos and ‘good riddance’-es.

The law of probability dictates, however,  that for every great Peacock there has to be a few turkeys. For every Radebe there’s a Masinga, and for every Haaland there’s a Strandli. If the stats are to be believed, though, there seems to be one nation in particular where Leeds could do worse than to shop for their next legend.

Over the years there seems to have been more great Scottish players turning out for Leeds than any other non-English nationality. In the 2000 list of the 100 Greatest Ever Leeds Players, nearly a fifth of the players named are Scottish, and there are more Scotsmen than Englishmen in the top ten.

Since 1971 there have been seven Scots named Leeds United Player of The Year. In Leeds’ history there have been seven Scottish captains, making a cumulative total of 23 years with a Scotsman at the helm. It’s possible, if one were so inclined (or had a spare half an hour while waiting for a train like I did) to create a dream team of great Scottish Whites:

Goalkeeper: Harvey
Defenders: F. Gray, McQueen, Matteo, Bell
Midfielders: Strachan, McAllister, Bremner, E. Gray
Forwards: Lorimer, Jordan

I’m biased obviously, but I’d say that that side would be more than capable of beating a lot of current Premier League teams, almost on the strength of that incredible midfield alone.

That team doesn’t even include other top Scottish players, as well as current players who are well on their way to cult status in Snodgrass and McCormack. It’s plain to see: if you’re Scottish, Leeds fans are more likely to like you and you’re more likely to have an extremely long career. As Mr. Benitez would say, “issa fact.”

Why is it, then, that Scottish players seem to do better at Leeds than perhaps they do at other clubs? Certainly it would be wrong to suggest that they’re more naturally skilled than other Leeds greats, or great players in general, but the fact still remains: we love our Northern cousins at Elland Road.

Billy Bremner probably wasn’t as technically skilled as Lionel Messi, but I know who I’d want on my team any day of the week. If I were to hazard a guess, I’d probably say that the reasons Scots do so well in our corner of Yorkshire is because we’re not all that dissimilar. I don’t think it’d be too big a stereotype to suggest that Scots are always up for a scrap, refuse to back down and don’t give a toss what other people think of them. Remind you of a certain football team? Keep fighting, side before self every time.

Leeds fans don’t really care if you’re a skill king or even if you’re any good at football at all, as long as you’re willing to put in 100% effort and never let your head drop, you can’t go too far wrong. That resolute determination isn’t a uniquely Scottish trait, but it certainly seems to come much more naturally to players from north of the border.

With the January transfer window coming up and Leeds hopefully shopping for someone to shore up our porous defence, the answer is clear: get some unknown teenager from Stenhousemuir and watch him become a player of the year candidate with his own song by February.

Written by Jake Marsh

  • ramlinjohn

    Good article but a bit harsh on ‘Waltzin’ Masinga…he was alright

    • Lee B

      And due to the rules at the time, Masinga had no choice but to leave. It still irks me that Leeds wanted to keep him and he wanted to stay, but despite holding his contract we were the only club in the world that were not allowed to (re)sign him.

      He could have been another God-like Radebe figure at ER but he didn’t get the chance…

  • Gryff

    Two words: Stephen Crainey!