Over the years some of the greatest players in the world have played for Leeds United. Unfortunately, so have some of the worst. When it comes to terrible transfer dealings, we’ve had more than our fair share of flops. Here’s a small selection of those badly scouted few that have graced the lush green lawn of Elland Road.

Roque Junior
When word got around that World Cup and Champions League winner, Roque Junior would be joining Leeds on loan from AC Milan, the fans were delighted. The thinking was that such a talented player would be able to help the struggling club climb back up the table and stave off relegation.

Unfortunately for Leeds, Roque simply couldn’t adapt to the English game and it soon became clear as to why AC Milan were so willing to loan him out. Roque made just five appearences for Leeds before we helped him pack and took him to the airport, just to ensure he’d left the city for good. These days, Roque seems to have found his true level at Third Division Montenegrin club, OFK Igalo.

Kevin Nicholls
£700,000 was the fee Leeds coughed up for Kevin Nicholls. Two injuries later, the genius that is Dennis Wise was at the helm of the club and whilst Nicholls was still recovering from his latest injury, Wise pulled a masterstroke by awarding him the club captaincy.

After just an handful of games (13 to be precise), Nicholls stuck two fingers up at the club that had stuck by him through two injuries and awarded him captaincy, by demanding a move back to Luton Town.

If there’s one thing Dennis Wise did do right during his time at Elland Road, it was recouping the money we’d spent on the disgraced midfielder. Wise stubbornly refused to let Nicholls leave unless Luton could come up with what we’d paid for him. When they couldn’t, Preston North End came in and took him off our hands for £750,000. 18 games later, he’d managed to get out of his contract and return to Luton.

Darren Huckerby
At an astonishing £3,000,000 per goal, Darren Huckerby’s 40 appearences for Leeds will be remembered by most as a total failure. As much as the Leeds fans wanted him to do well, he never really found his feet at Elland Road and struggled to force his way into a first team that included Mark Viduka, Alan Smith and Michael Bridges.

After a year and half at the club, Huckerby left for Manchester City where he rediscovered his scoring boots. Although relegated with the team, he stayed on and helped them regain their Premier League status, only to be pushed out of the team by the arrival of Nicolas Anelka.

Huckerby now seems to have retired after finishing his career in the MLS with Californian team, San Jose Earthquakes. In 2008, he was voted the MLS Newcomer of the Year. (Only in America)

For me, Darren Huckerby personifies Leeds United’s transfer dealings around that time. He added nothing to a squad full of talent and his purchase only served to add to the clubs increasing expenditure. When we should have been buying players of sheer quality that could help us take the next step, we bought average footballers fit for a mid-table side.

Paul Okon
A product of the doomed Terry Venables regime, Paul Okon had spent his career moving from club to club and failing to find a permanent place at any of them. After 21 games at Leeds, it became glaringly obvious why. Although he had suffered from injury and was initially lacking match-fitness, time failed to improve the Australian and he was constantly caught out of position and failed to keep up with the pace of Premier League football.

Tomas Brolin
For me, Tomas Brolin is by far the worst signing in the history of Leeds United. Leeds fought off three Italian clubs to secure Brolin’s signature and after a £4,500,000 fee was agreed, the fans were expectant.

Brolin failed to live up to the hype though and the overweight, slow and out of place looking striker made just nineteen appearences for the Whites scoring four goals in the process. Google “worst Premier League transfers” and Brolin will feature prominently in every list you can find, such is the legacy the man left behind.

I’ll end with a quote from one such list. The following comes from The Times Online and tells you all you need to know about the legend that is, Tomas Brolin.

“Hard to imagine that Leeds United, normally a model of fiscal probity, paid £4.5m for the Swedish meatball in 1995. A good footballer treats his body like a temple. Brolin’s was a bouncy castle.”

25 Responses

  1. Brac

    Okon??? We didn’t pay a fee for him, did we? There are plenty of other players who cost decent money and never really produced…Duberry, Cresswell, Peter Barnes, Seth Jonson, John Hendrie…..

    • TSS

      Hi Brac, I really haven’t got a clue whether we paid for him or not, but we still signed him and paid his wages so he had to be included.

      I may do a Part II to this at some point which will include some of the players I didn’t honour in this one.

  2. Marillion White

    Nice List but could name a couple more.

    1. Peter Barnes – the year we went down to Division Two. I remember seeing him play against Stoke after he had been named in the England 40 man squad. He was dropped from that squad the next weekend, and so did his need to play for Leeds.

    2. Jake Burns – 21 minutes and long forgotten, plane back to Oz please.

    3. Seth Johnston – Derby £7 million, they must have rubbed their hands, I know that Seth was. In the end Leeds paid Seth £1 million just to get him off the books. And where did he go …… Derby.

    4. Peter Sweeney – Dennis Wise what was you doing Northampton over £500,000 about 5 games if i remember god what a mistake. And then Wise left.

    Please I can’t go on this is so………… I need to find a bridgew to jump from….. Pmsl

    Marillion White (Less is More.)

    • Gary Tunnicliffe

      I quite liked Huckerby and he certainly wasn’t in the top 5 of our worst ever transfers. What Leeds used to do was throw him on late in the game to use his pace and he did okay.

  3. Brac

    Marillion White, Sweeney didn’t come from Northampton (that was Johnson) and I doubt we paid £500 for him, let alone £500,000.

    TSS, fair point about Okon, Roque Junior was a loanee, lets see…Horsfield, Stack, Alan Wright, Jermal Johnson.

    Players we signed…Craig Hignett, Danny Cadamarteri, David Harle, John Buckley, Russell Doig, John Donnelly, Frank Strandli…we could be here until Christmas. Lets give this one up haha

  4. TSS

    Think I may need a series of these posts to cover the majority.

    Gary – I think most Leeds fans had a soft spot for Huckerby, but that can’t disguise how pointless a signing he was given the amount of talent we already had in that sqaud. It was an extra wage we simply didn’t need and he never produced enough goals to justify it.

  5. Marillion White

    Sorry Brac – Your right.

    I just remember being at the match where we had gone unbeaten and top or near the top of League 1, Division three, whatever….

    And Five new signings were played, and Sweeney, Johnston where a waste of time and both were taken off.

    Thought to be honest Johnston has become a very good player for us of late and plays for the shirt week in week out.

    What about John Charles on his return …. that was a bad transfer …. lead to believe that Don drove him back to the airport for his return to Italy …….

  6. Max.

    Bit unfair on Huckerby given that Nick Barmby, Seth Johnson, Jody Morris, Michael Ricketts, Michael Duberry and for that matter Robbie Fowler are still free men. And I can’t even remember the names of the other loan players who came in with Roque Junior under Reid but they were all a disaster, to a man.

    Huckerby was generally there to worry and tire defences as a substitute. He wasn’t the brightest forward but I do think he was worth having on the bench.

    Bang on on Okon though.

  7. HS

    Worst transfer of them all has to be the transfer OUT of Cantona; a Wilkinson master stroke, ringing Ferguson to inquire about buying Irwin and instead ending up selling Cantona to the scum.

    As for Brolin. Didn’t work out too well, but a lot of the blame for that has to rest with Howard Wilkinson (again). Brolin was just about the only really creative player in the side at the time and yet Wilko refused to give him a good run in the side.

  8. Andrew Preston

    Lee sharpe for me.

    I recall one game where theball went right under his foot and out of play for a throw in 3 times in a bloody row!!!!

  9. Phil

    There are plent of bad ones not mentioned:

    There’s Ian Rush, the return of Lee Chapman, Ray Wallace (RIP), Danny Cadamarteri, Derek Lilley, Teddy Lucic, Ken Demange, Paul Beesley, Paul Butler…..need I go on?

  10. Paul South Wales

    Jesus, some of those aforementioned names i’d forgotten about, but still send shivers down my spine!!!! I would never mention Huckerby in the same sentance as most of those losers though! Showumni,Lubo and Dan Harding are the modern day equivalents of most. The strange thing about this discussion is we must now think we have the perfect team……….Think again!!!

  11. musiclover

    Didier Domi, Lamine Sakho, Zoumana Camara, Cyril Chapuis and Salomon Olembe with grateful thanks to Peter Reid

  12. Woody

    Liverpool tend to offload us their has-beens like Barmby, Rush & Fowler. They tried that trick when they sold us Dom Matteo but he turned out to be a great signing.

  13. Gledders.com

    Enoch Showumni. Never seen anything like the Charlton game. None of the players mentioned ever fell over their own feet that I’m aware of.

    • RTF

      I thought he`d tripped up on his laces, this guy brings a new meaning to `its beyond a joke`.

    • PB

      dead on – Lee Sharp, Seth Johnson. Sharp was terrible at manchester and then that idiot Wilkinson paid 5m for him

  14. Kernow

    Barmby and Fowler. How the hell were we still paying wages for these two clowns when Fowler was player for Man City and Barmby was down the road watching Hull.

    Brolin will always top this poll. However, I have to say, I admire what Wilkinson was trying to do. I admire the thinking behind the Brolin signing – who knew that the best player at ’92 European Championships would turn out to be such a chump?

    Just imagine if he’s have replicated his Parma career at Leeds, linking up with Yeboah?

  15. maxwatson

    Barmby (whom I remember being referred to in one report as “pea-hearted”), Ricketts, Lee Sharpe were all worse than Huckerby. Barmby should be near the top of any list. Seth Johnson was just injured for most of the time with us and you can’t really blame him for either the cost or the injury. Jody Morris was godawful. And no mention of Kenny Burns yet.

    For those having a go at Fowler, he didn’t recapture his best form and didn’t look particularly fit but he did score 15 goals in 31 games.


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