Leeds United is a club steeped in history, a giant of the English game which has seen more than its fair share of top players wear the famous white shirts down the years, so Thomas Bradley chose his half-dozen heroes for the FansBet Joy of Six series.
Not surprisingly, this United side features many of the names from Leeds’ more successful days of the 1990s and 2000s, a fine blend of loyal servants, proven winners, and international superstars all under the watchful eye of a manager who very much does things his way.
Martyn became the first £1 million goalkeeper when he moved from Bristol Rovers to Crystal Palace in 1989 before arriving at Elland Road in 1996 and was part of the Leeds side who reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2001, making him a firm favourite with United supporters in the process. “He was our greatest ever goalkeeper,” says Thomas. “I’d love to see him in action on a 5-a-side pitch. Not much would get past him that’s for sure!”
How could this South African legend not be included in the I’d Radebe Leeds all-time six-a-side team? A versatile player who once went in goal for a game against Manchester United at Old Trafford he’d be able to play rush ‘keeper if required. “My footballing hero,” says Thomas. “There’s a reason he’s The Chief at Leeds United, and I know that he would be a leader inside the ‘cage.'”
Mr no-nonsense, this midfield general would put the fear into any side and wouldn’t stand for any cocky showboating on the pitch. A pivotal part of United’s 1992 league title-winning side, he might get a few sin bins but his talent is underrated. “He can’t half play and not many sides would want to face his tenacity and ability to stick the boot in,” says Thomas.
According to Thomas, this man has to be included due to his engine and incredible creativity in front of goal as well as being: “one of the best players during our European adventure.” A man capable of covering every inch of the pitch in a six-a-side team you’d back him to score plenty of goals and cause headaches for the opposition.
Viduka scored 72 goals for Leeds United in 166 appearances in four years with the club having joined from Celtic FC in 2000 and will always be remembered for the four goals he scored against Liverpool in the 2000/01 season. “Big and bold but with a touch of grace you’d usually only see from a ballerina,” is how Thomas describes this United hero. “I’ve never seen such good footwork on a player of his size. He’d be an asset at 5-a-side, goals and silky skills aplenty.”
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
Only at Elland Road for two seasons, Jimmy Floyd still made a name for himself with an astonishing scoring record of 42 goals in 87 games, meaning he would certainly frighten any defenders in this form of the game. “I’d pick him purely to see the fear on the face of the goalkeeper when a 75mph shot comes flying towards them” says Thomas. “There’s thunder in his thighs!”
Renowned for doing things his own way and meticulous attention to detail in his training and preparation methods, Bielsa has already become a legend among Leeds fans as he looks to take them back to the Premier League once more. “It would be fascinating to see how much detail he’d go into just for 6-a-side, not to mention how fit the players would be,” explains Thomas. “El Loco would bring the crowds in for sure.”
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