Robert-SnodgrassWith July fast approaching, the pre-season transfer window should burst into the life over the next few weeks and key to Leeds United’s season will probably be the signing of some new wingers – an area we’ve been desperately lacking in since the sale of Robert Snodgrass. Here, we look back at some of the Whites best wingers from the 21st Century.

Eddie Lewis (2005-07)

A free transfer from Preston North End in 2005, American international, Eddie Lewis quickly became a regular in Leeds United’s Championship side scoring 8 times in 85 appearances.

Something of a free-kick specialist, Lewis is remembered fondly for the equalising goal in the Championship play-off semi-final against his former club, Preston. Voted fans’ player of the year in 2006-07, Lewis had planned to stay on at Leeds despite relegation to League One. However, when Premier League Derby County came knocking, manager Dennis Wise felt it was in the players best interests to leave, subsequently agreeing to the transfer.

Robert Snodgrass (2008-12)

Never the most conventional winger, what Snodgrass lacked in pace, he more than made up for with his ability to take players on and create goalscoring chances. Quite possibly the best player Leeds United have signed since relegation from the Premier League, “Snoddy” liked to take his man on down the byline, cut inside and play the ball across the box. A devastatingly effective move that provided countless goalscoring chances.

He scored a few goals himself too. In four seasons at Elland Road, Snodgrass made 193 appearances in all competitions scoring 41 goals before joining the rest of Leeds United’s former talent at Norwich City.

Max Gradel (2009-11)

Tricky, nimble, quick and with a goalscoring record some strikers would be envious of, Max Gradel at his best was unplayable, a game-changing miracle worker opposition teams had no answer for.

Two seasons as an impact player in League One was nearly the end of Gradel’s story after he lost his head and was sent off in a crucial end-of-season clash against Bristol, a game which Leeds needed to win to secure promotion.

Luckily for Max, ten-men Leeds rallied to win the game, making his red card seem somewhat trivial as The Whites celebrated promotion back to the second tier. Gradel hadn’t forgotten his error though, promising to make amends the following season, he did so in style, becoming an ever-present in Simon Grayson’s side scoring 18 goals in 41 appearances collecting both the fans’ and players’ player of the season awards.

Since his sale to Saint Etienne in 2011, Gradel has been a talking point of every transfer window.

Aaron Lennon (2003-05)

At 16 years and 129 days, Lennon became the youngest player to ever appear in the Premier League when he made his debut against Tottenham Hotspur in 2003. With pace to burn and skills that delighted the Elland Road faithful, Lennon quickly established himself as a first team regular over the coming season.

But financial difficulties brought a premature end to the Leeds career of Chapeltown born, Thorp Arch Academy graduate Aaron Lennon. In 2005, having made 43 appearances for The Whites, Leeds’ troubles forced the club to sell star players, with Lennon moving to Tottenham Hotspur for the bargain fee of just £1,000,000.

Lennon has since made over 300 appearances for Spurs and won 21 caps for England. A painful reminder of what Leeds United’s future should have looked like.

James Milner (2002-04)

Another 16 year-old Leeds-born Thorp Arch graduate who once held the record of youngest Premier League player, Milner also became the youngest player to score in the Premier League on Boxing Day 2002, just days before his 17th birthday.

Two seasons, 54 appearances and 5 goals was all Leeds United saw of Milner before the same financial difficulties that led to Lennon’s sale, saw us sell Milner to Newcastle United for £3.6m.

Scant reward for the years of Thorp Arch nurture and another reminder of what Leeds United should have been. Milner has since picked up a Premier League and FA Cup winners medal with Manchester City, alongside his 38 caps for England.

Notable omissions

No Eirik Bakke!? Shameful, I know. But I always stick to five with these things and wanted to take a good sample from the last decade and half, both our Premier League and post-Premier League eras, so there’s understandably a few names missing. Consider this more of a snapshot of eras, than a ‘best of.’

Harry K***ll wasn’t included because I refuse to acknowledge him as a former Leeds United player. Indeed, I think his name should be scratched from our history, video tapes erased, YouTube clips redacted… Might take a while…

As for Andros Townsend, well, I tried to include him but his forehead wouldn’t fit on the page.

  • Barry John Trory

    Matthew Briggs aged 16 years and 65 days youngest player

    • TSS

      Now he is, yes. He wasn’t at the time.

  • Thommo Hawk

    Come on, he might be a first class cock but Kewell should be in this list as should Bowyer. Both played for us since the year 2000 AND they were by far the best wingers we’ve ever had since then.

    Seems like you’ve only added Eddie Lewis because you can’t allow yourself to put Kewell in it.

    • TSS

      Bowyer was box-to-box. I know he played mostly on the right-side, but I never really saw him as a winger. He was more like Strachan than Speed, if you know what I mean. But yeah, I agree, he was one of the best players we’ve had this century.

  • matt bb

    In his day kewell was our finest winger, despite his loathsome exit, his days in a white shirt were the best in his career. I’ll always remember his almost cavalier half volley and lob as we thrashed Wednesday 6-1

    • mick

      yep totally agree, kewell better than any winger in last 15 yrs or so, leeds fans seem to forget we use to adore him. milner and snoddy gr8 triers with a bit of a trick and good crossers but lacking pace, lennon didn see him much, max very quick but eratic. bakke? central midfielder ball winner not winger. bowyer box to box player down the middle also not a winger. yep we could do with a kewell now.MICK

      • TSS

        I don’t think Leeds fans forget how much we adored him – it’s because of how much we adored him that what he went on to do was so inexcusable, and annoyed us all so much.

        • mick

          yes i know, that aside he was greatest we have had though in last 2 decades.

    • Shay

      When did we thrash Wednesday 6-1 with Kewell in the side?.Was that not in a 3-0 away around April 2000.The great 1992 team won 6-1 at Hillsborough.

  • Reiver

    Kewell was a good winger ‘on his day’ but his day only came around three or four times a season – he was bone idle most of the time.

    • TSS

      True. His ‘best of’ reel makes him look like Messi, but it was easy to forget he was on the pitch some days.

    • warren

      Thats crap he was awesome during the whole of 99/00 season when he picked up the pfa young player of the year award. Granted the following seasons he never reached those heights but I dont think he ever recoverd from the injury which kept him out of most of the champions league.

  • Tony

    He may be hated for how he left but Harry Kewell in his heyday for us was worth more than these players listed put together.

    • mick

      totally agree,

      • Irving08

        Well, I for one disagree. HK (like Alan Smith) matured and reached his peak quite early in his career. I loved the young Kewell (personally never wamed to Smith).
        The achilles injury seriously reduced his pace, but it also exposed limitations to his game that were not so visible earlier. Unable any longer to rely on his pace and superior physique to get past this man, he began to look lost. Had we not been imploding, as he began (relativley) to struggle, he could have rebuilt his game. Alas….
        Snodgrass, by contrast, has always had to rely on his feet – and a great footballing brain. I would like both of them, playing at their peak, in my side.
        The others aren’t bad either !

  • JDC

    Thanks for the memories TSS … now to all the doubters, stay-aways and those who want the club to spend large sums of money. Of the players featured in the montage, and some who didn’t, I would like to ask, how many cost millions of £s? Answer … none, so perhaps there’s a lesson and now we have a better manager than we’ve had for many years, it’s maybe time to return to the philosophy of developing our own again, with a couple of “cheap” signings thrown in.

    • LUFC4LIFE

      Maybe you have more money than sense? I’m not buying a season ticket again until I see the same level of investment in the club as the fans have. It’s not about spending millions, they can build a team of frees for me if they have the right attributes and work ethic, but the fact is, the owners don’t want to spend a penny yet you think in these times of economic crisis that we should all spend our hard earned cash on going to watch shite because the owners lack the passion and love for the club !! … Now on the other hand, if the owners decide to give Mc’D the cash he needs for the team he wants to build (how ever much that may be) then I’ll be the first to say I was wrong, I hope I am but time will tell.

      Oh, btw, we do develop our own as you say but we choose to sell them all off so that we can invest in corporate boxes and extensions … When they sell players and the money goes back into the squad, then I’ll shell out to watch them !!

      • JDC

        Maybe I do have more money than sense … who knows. Over many, many years I have spent more money on supporting Leeds United than I care to remember, through the good times and the bad to very bad … and I will continue to do so. Like you, I would love to see GFH give Brian McDermott the money to build the team of his choice with the players of his choice, and as yet, we don’t know they can’t, or won’t … what I categorically do not want to see, along with many others, is a return to the days of unrestrained spending of borrowed money and the intension of my original post was to suggest that with some prudent spending, development of our own, a manager with the qualities of BMcD is capable of building a team on a budget that we can all be proud of … and support through thick and thin.

        • Chareose

          I agree with Lufc sentiments but is that attitude practical for the club we love ? Yes we have skint owners but atleast they arnt Bates and we now have a good manager….the club needs punters through the door if its ever to recover financially and we cant expect NON fans to dig into their pockets to fun it…… the fans need to go next season in force to show bmc and our youth team support…..

          • JDC

            Fully agree Chareose … we all need to go and show BMcD a support that he hasn’t previously witnessed … a full ER with everyone behind the team, his team. Bates is soon to be consigned to the past and that is exactly where he should be left by all of us … just a bad taste from last night’s curry.
            Perhaps GFH don’t have any money, but imo they have tried to “help” the fans by reducing ticket prices and other initiatives and perhaps we should be prepared to give them their opportunity to move us forward.

          • Irving08

            The fans have been going. It’s the others who haven’t.

        • Irving08

          Completely agree. Money has spoilt football. Unfortunately cricket -probably our one truly national game – is going the same way (no Tests on terrestial anymore etc.). Thank goodness we can watch the IPL (almost) for free.

  • craig

    Really idolized Harry when he appeared he was One of us, his ability was outstanding effortless which appeared to be lazy at times. Even married that Dingle Lass back on the farm. Now I like many others hate him and yes its genuine I would not piss on him if he were on fire!!!

  • spellz

    Snoddy and Gradel all day long for the top two unlike Kewell at least they stayed on the pitch, Kewell was a little too injury prone for me for him to make any type of list apart from St James’s Hospital. I might be being a bit harsh on the lad though as he did put in some fantastic games, we are Leeds though as a club we breed wingers and there will be plenty of more names to add to that list in the forthcoming seasons guaranteed.

    M.OT as always.

    • yorxman

      Gradel didn’t stay on the pitch when we needed him v Bristol Rovers!

      • spellz

        From what I remember he wouldn’t leave.

  • Matthew

    Sad thing is, any one of those players would make a huge difference in our current squad, that’s really saying something lol

    One thing that does impress me, is Wingers that score goals from long range, Snoddy, Gradel and others have done it. You get that holy shit feeling when the ball is smashed in the back of the net from distance lol

    The Sun are reporting that Millwall are bidding for Tommy Rowe lol, It’s in todays paper anyway, in the sports section, those small boxes that have news about random teams.

  • Ben Whitfield

    Some good players, but not all deserve to be on this list. Lennon was good for us but unfortunately we never saw ‘the best’ of him, particularly in the PL, due to his age before he was sold on. As for Eddie Lewis, he was good for a season only. Agree with Snoddy, Milner & Max though.

    I think Jason Wilcox deserves a shout in the list to be honest. A decent out&out winger, good turn of pace and cable of producing a decent end product with his wicked left foo

    • Irving08

      He had no pace – that was the trouble. He had one good run (ie in one game) and tha’t’s about it. Decent chap, though.

  • Arnie

    Agree with the comments re: Kewell. Okay he and his agent screwed us over for the Liverpool transfer and he also went to Galatasaray but the end of the day most footballers are mercenaries when it comes to money. lets not kid ourselves. He should be in the list on merit, somewhere near the top. Not sure about Eddie Lewis, but suppose he came after the Lord Mayor’s Show, so to speak. What we’d do for any of these players right now…

  • Jason

    Whats all the talk about being skint again? £52 million take over and no money for players, something doesn’t seem right. What a load of rubbish they are feeding the fans. I along with thousands of others won’t be going to Elland Road to pay for false promises and lies

  • chapmansheader

    since when was Bakke a winger??

    • TSS

      Bakke played both right side and centre mid, but yeah, he was more of a central midfielder for Leeds for the most part.