Very little unites Leeds United and Bradford City, but David Wetherall spent 18 years between the two clubs making over 500 appearances and winning a league title in the process. You’ll find few fans of either side with a bad word to say about him. 

Leeds United’s defensive frailties are well document and we’ve all reminisced on better days and compiled our greatest defensive combination for when genetic cloning becomes a reality and we can farm Lucas Radebe’s and Terry Cooper’s –  the last player who truly satisfied at left-back some would argue. But whenever I read and hear these dream-team defensive combinations, no one ever includes the legendary David Wetherall!

OK, so we’ve had some good central defenders and it’s understandable that Lucas Radebe, Norman Hunter and Jonathan Woodgate would be top of your list. But to include Rio “Plug” Ferdinand above a man who bled blue, white and yellow is sacrilege.

Rio Ferdinand isn’t fit to lace David Wetherall’s boots. In 202 appearances for Leeds, Wetherall achieved much more than Plug. He won the League title in 1992 and also played in the League Cup final in 1996 (not his greatest moment, I grant you). Rio, to his credit, played a massive part in our Champions League run, but he also played an equally important part in our implosion the following season. By then, the captain of the club, Rio was the man who we hoped would lift morale following the release of that ridiculous David O’Leary book – instead, Leeds United slipped from 1st at the start of the year to finish outside the Champions League places triggering a financial crisis we still haven’t recovered from.

Now I’m not saying we should hold Rio fully responsible for our financial meltdown, but he is a Scummer these days so I think it’s only fair we give him some of the blame…

I’d also argue that Jonathan Woodgate has nothing on Wetherall. Sure, he was good. But you wouldn’t catch the ever-reliable David Wetherall ethnic cleansing the Leeds nightclubs on a Saturday night! You also have to take into account that Woodgate will retire with a Worthless Cup to his name and tales of ‘what might have been’ whilst Wetherall retired having conquered England.

And David Wetherall did much more than help us win the title and take us to the League Cup final. He also scored a sensational goal in September 1997 that gave The Whites a rare win over Manchester United. That alone is enough to make him a legend in my eyes.

But Wetherall didn’t stop there. Even after he’d left Leeds United he was still doing everything in his power to ensure The Whites were successful. Clearly not a fan of travelling (Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds United and then…) Wetherall moved to Bradford City where he scored the winning goal against Liverpool to give Leeds United a place in the Champions League. Sure, the youngsters did their part in getting us there, but the old head was still on hand to provide assistance.

So next time you’re listing your perfect defensive line-up spare a thought for the man who won us a league title, humiliated the Mancs and sealed us a place in the Champions League. Even if you (quite rightly) decide the best central partnership is Lucas Radebe and Norman Hunter, save a place for the always reliable David Wetherall on your bench – it’s the very least he deserves.