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.