Whether it’s Lee Bowyer, Jermaine Beckford or Alan Smith, a summer rarely goes by at Leeds United without The Whites being linked to a former player, so we thought it’d be interesting to take a look back at previous players who returned for a second spell, starting with five of the worst comebacks.

Lee Chapman (1990-93 & 1996)

Lee Chapman scored 67 goals in three glorious years at Elland Road, 21 of which came as Leeds United won promotion to the top flight in 1990 and 16 of which came two years later as The Whites were crowned champions. By the time he left for Portmouth in 1993, Chapman was almost a living legend.

Three years later with Chapman struggling to get a game for Ipswich Town and Leeds United struggling for goals, Howard Wilkinson saw an opportunity to cement Lee Chapman’s place in the history books by bringing him back on loan. Unfortunately, the Chapman that returned was a shadow of him former self, managing just two appearances and a red card on his second debut for the club. He went on to have unsuccessful spells at Swindon Town and Strømsgodset IF before hanging up his boots later that year.

Radostin Kishishev (2007 & 2007-08)

A loan signing from Charlton Athletic when he first arrived at Elland Road, Kishishev was an instant hit with Leeds United fans earning the man of the match award on his debut and playing a dominant part in The Whites most successful spell of the 2006-07 season.

Unfortunately for Leeds, Kish couldn’t help the club avoid relegation to League One, but he did more than enough to impress the fans, with many begging for the club to sign him permanently.

When his contract with Charlton expired at the end of the season, Kishishev signed for Leicester City where he struggled to break into the first team allowing Leeds to swoop in and bring about his much anticipated return. However, his second spell was nowhere near as successful as the first with an injury ruling him out for several matches. After recovering from injury, he failed to replicate the form that had made him a hit with the Whites faithful the season previous and calls for him to be signed up permanently soon dissipated.

Michael Gray (2005 & 2007)

Another double loan signing, Michael Gray’s first spell at Elland Road wasn’t too bad. His second spell however coincided with our relegation. You could argue there was very little he could do to prevent the sinking ship. You could also argue it was these kind of signings that helped the ship plunge!

Brian Deane (1993-97 & 2004-05)

Aside from a four goal haul in the 6-1 hammering of Queen’s Park Rangers, Deano’s return to Leeds wasn’t the glorious comeback we’d all been hoping for. A homegrown cult hero whose first spell at the club was relatively successful, Deano returned hoping to help Leeds United back to the Premier League.

Unfortunately, it was a turbulent season with the fall-out from the Premier League causing instability and regular changes in personnel. The Whites finished the campaign in a forgettable 14th position. Deano meanwhile went on to join Sunderland and Perth Glory, followed by a third and final spell at Sheffield United before he retired in 2006.

John Charles (1948-57 & 1962)

A lesson in positive PR boosting profits, John Charles’ return to Elland Road was more about raising funds through increased ticket prices than it was about securing a top striker.

Following a spell in Italy, Charles struggled to adjust to the pace back in England, managing just 3 goals in 11 appearances following his comeback, which was pretty poor for a man who had netted 150 in 297 appearances the first time around.

Though his spell was less successful than fans had hoped, it did succeed in raising gate receipts at Elland Road and Leeds United even managed to net a healthy £18,000 profit from his sale to Roma later that year – a very sizeable sum of cash in 1962.

18 Responses

  1. Si Douthwaite

    Tis a shame to include JC in this report matey.. but wow.. I’d completely forgotten we’d had Kishishev.. Ooopsie /:

    • TSS

      I know. It was a bit of a success story in many ways as well, the transfer succeeded in boosting gate receipts which was incredibly important for a Leeds United on the brink of success. Other signings which made up our greatest team may not have been possible had it not been for that transfer.

      Ultimately though, it had to be judged on football, and Charles’ return was nowhere near as successful as his first spell.

      • TimPM

        Personally, and I’m nowhere near old enough to know first hand, I think it’s fair enough. For the top number 9’s we were asked to do (you’ll see during the season) I think we had him at number 1 @TSSLUFC:disqus ? So we balance ourselves out!

        It’s heartbreaking for the bloke reading back his account of his time. Just a clash of footballing cultures I guess?

  2. Rob Travis

    Don’t agree with Gray aiding to the plunging of the club at all. He’s probably the best left back we’ve had since Ian Harte.

    • Jimmy

      Then does that make Ian Harte the second worst left back Leeds ever had – I certainly think so.

  3. Andrew Nattan

    You went with Mickey Gray (who didn’t put a foot wrong in either spell) over Lubomir Michalik? A man who went from being a colossus to a clown in the space of a brief return to Bolton?

    • TSS

      Michalik was one spell though. There was no gap between loan and actual transfer, was there?

      Did feel a little harsh putting Gray in, but he was the one player who returned during that turbulent spell of quickly papering over cracks as team crumbled. The turnover of players and lack of stability was conducive to our fall, he’ll forever be associated with that I guess?

      He wasn’t as good the second time around either. The performance of the team overall was clearly a factor, but then it was for Deano as well. Harsh, but you could probably find mitigating circumstances for every poor transfer.

      • Andrew Nattan

        Yeah, he went back to Bolton, then we signed him. It was a shame, because it looked like the Michalik/Gray axis might have provided us with the defensive stability to stay up…

      • TimPM

        There’s definitely something we could do there… “Loanees gone bad” starring Lubomir Michalik & Andy O’Brien off the top of my head?

  4. LUFC69

    Bolton recalled Michalik if I remember and he scored against Chelsea in the prem and we signed him up in the January window the following season when we were in league one

  5. maxwatson

    How about Alan Clarke? Legend as a player, came back as manager and we get relegated for 8 years.

    • RoystonLufc

      Steady on Max, at that rate I can see King Billy and Eddie Gray losing their legendary status if we go down that road :)

  6. leedslunatic

    Anyone hear on the situation with Ross’s contract? He said he wants to stay, Warnock said he want’s to keep him…. Of course both will say this anyway but if it’s true… what’s the story? Is he any closer to signing a deal?

  7. amj

    take ya head for a shake micky gray worked his socks off in his 2nd spell brian deane was are joint top scorer that season in his 2nd spell

    • TSS

      It’s about them being less successful the second time around, which both were. 6 goals isn’t the kind of top goalscoring record any striker should be bragging about – especially when 4 came in a freak demolition job of QPR.


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