Tag Archives: Leeds United

Premier League Rewind: 13th-14th September 1997

Results: Arsenal 4-1 Bolton Wanderers, Barnsley 0-3 Aston Villa, Coventry City 1-0 Southampton, Crystal Palace 0-3 Chelsea, Derby County 3-1 Everton, Leicester City 3-0 Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool FC 2-1 Sheffield Wednesday, Manchester United 2-1 West Ham United, Newcastle United 1-3 Wimbledon, Blackburn Rovers 3-4 Leeds United

Going into the second month of action in the 1997-1998 season, it was Blackburn Rovers who were setting the early pace. New manager Roy Hodgson had made an immediate impact on his new side and they were scoring plenty of goals, finding the net 15 times in five matches. Blackburn were looking to keep their advantage at the top of the table and respond to Saturday’s action when they met Leeds United in the live televised Sky match.

Before they got the opportunity to play, history was being made at Highbury. Against Bolton Wanderers, Ian Wright finally managed to eclipse Cliff Bastin and become Arsenal’s record all-time goalscorer. Wright’s first goal saw him equal Bastin’s mark of 177 goals but in the excitement of scoring the equaliser, he took his top off and revealed a vest he was wearing ‘178 – Just Done It!’ He was slightly too keen but five minutes later, a more routine tap-in was the goal that saw him break the record. To cap his amazing day, he completed his hat-trick with nine minutes left, taking his tally to six goals in six games. Arsenal won the game 4-1 and remained unbeaten, playing some cavalier football under Arsene Wenger which was a welcome sight for the fans who had got used to tight, cagey games in the George Graham era.

Manchester United hadn’t quite reached full throttle yet but they were getting the results and that meant the reigning champions went top after beating West Ham United 2-1 at Old Trafford. After five consecutive clean sheets, the Red Devils defence finally conceded after 14 minutes thanks to John Hartson. Recently-appointed captain, Roy Keane quickly levelled the scores before Paul Scholes scored the winning goal with 14 minutes left to play.

They would stay top of the table as Blackburn were beaten for the first time in the season after an absorbing first half against Leeds, who went into the match on a run of three successive defeats and just outside the bottom three. Leeds made a great start, taking a 2-0 lead inside six minutes through Rod Wallace and Robert Molenaar. Within 16 minutes, Blackburn were level, thanks to a scorching strike from Kevin Gallacher and a Chris Sutton penalty. Attack seemed to be the best form of defence for both teams and the visitors stormed back into a two-goal lead. Wallace scored his second of the afternoon before David Hopkin finished off another sweeping counter-attack. On 33 minutes, Martin Dahlin got the better of Molenaar and beat Nigel Martyn with a shot that went in off the post. Naturally, the second half didn’t quite have the frantic approach of the first 45 minutes although Leeds finished with 10 men after Harry Kewell was sent off. Nevertheless, they held on for all three points and left Blackburn three points behind Manchester United.

Elsewhere and Newcastle United’s 100% start to the season was ended by a Wimbledon side who had started the weekend bottom of the Premier League. The Dons left Tyneside with all three points after an excellent all-round team performance, triumphing 3-1 with goals from Carl Cort, Chris Perry and Efan Ekoku. Southampton replaced them at the foot of the table after losing 1-0 away at Coventry City. Chelsea moved into third position with a fourth successive victory after cruising to a 3-0 success at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace. Graeme Le Saux wrapped the scoring up in the 90th minute with his first goal in his second spell with the Blues.

What else happened in September 1997?

  • Over two billion people worldwide watch the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales which takes place at Westminster Abbey.
  • September sees the death of Mother Teresa, aged 87.
  • Both Scotland and Wales voted in favour of a devolved Parliament, meaning the formation of the National Assembly for Wales and the Scottish Parliament.
  • The IOC selects Athens as the host city of the 2004 Summer Olympics.
  • The National Geographic Channel is launched.
  • The Italian regions of Umbria and Marche are struck by an earthquake, causing part of the Basilica of St. Francis at Assisi to collapse.
  • The football teams in Scotland’s top-flight, including Rangers and Celtic, decide to split from the SFL and form the Scottish Premier League from next season.

 

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Premier League Rewind: 2nd-3rd April 1999

Results: Aston Villa 0-0 West Ham United, Blackburn Rovers 0-0 Middlesbrough, Charlton Athletic 0-1 Chelsea, Derby County 3-4 Newcastle United, Leeds United 3-1 Nottingham Forest, Liverpool FC 3-2 Everton, Sheffield Wednesday 1-2 Coventry City, Southampton 0-0 Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur 0-2 Leicester City, Wimbledon 1-1 Manchester United

The three-way title battle in the 1998-1999 Premier League season closed up further after this weekend of action which ended with just five points covering Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea.

The Red Devils were still busy chasing ‘The Treble’ and experiencing a careless moment at Selhurst Park where an error by Gary Neville allowed Jason Euell to put Wimbledon infront after only five minutes. David Beckham equalised to earn the visitors a point that kept them top of the table.

That was because second-placed Arsenal were unable to breakdown a stubborn Southampton side at The Dell. The Saints were still scrapping for points themselves to keep their top-flight status and frustrated Arsene Wenger’s side in a nervy match which saw defenders finish completely dominant over attackers.

This meant Chelsea could close in further and their fourth win in five games arrived in a London Derby against another team needing points at the wrong end of the table in Charlton Athletic. It was the softest of goals that won the game for the Blues at The Valley. Charlton goalkeeper Sasa Ilic failed to judge a cross correctly and Roberto Di Matteo had a simple finish in the 11th minute. Chelsea were now just a point behind Arsenal in the table and had a game in-hand on the reigning champions too.

Fourth-placed Leeds United maintained their winning sequence, equalling a mark set by Don Revie’s all-conquering side in the 1970s. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink continued his quest for the Golden Boot, powering Leeds into a 43rd minute lead against bottom club Nottingham Forest. Further goals from Ian Harte and Alan Smith helped Leeds to a 3-1 victory which saw them stretch 10 points clear of the chasing pack. Forest had Carlton Palmer sent off and were now 11 points adrift of safety. Relegation was virtually guaranteed for the club for the third time in their Premier League history.

Another manager feeling the pressure was Walter Smith. In his first season as Everton manager, he was experiencing the pressures of a relegation dogfight for the first time after his glowing success in Scottish football with Rangers. Despite Olivier Dacourt’s spectacular strike in the opening minute at Anfield, Everton lost the latest edition of The Merseyside Derby 3-2 to Liverpool FC, leaving the Toffees in 17th place and only one point clear of the relegation zone. Liverpool’s win was overshadowed by Robbie Fowler’s controversial goal celebration after he scored a penalty. He used the white line of the penalty area to simulate cocaine use. The FA took a dim view, fining him £32,000 and gave him a six-match ban for this incident and another episode earlier in the season with Chelsea defender Graeme Le Saux which had seen the striker wave his backside in Le Saux’s direction. Liverpool fined the player too for bringing the game into disrepute.

Elsewhere, Derby County’s European hopes took a knock when they lost a goal-filled match with Newcastle United. Five goals were scored in the first half with Gary Speed getting two of them and the Magpies eventually prevailed 4-3 winners with the decisive goal coming from Nolberto Solano. There was also some personal joy for Leicester City forward Tony Cottee. He scored the 200th goal of his professional career in the Foxes’ 2-0 victory at White Hart Lane as Leicester exacted some quick revenge for their League Cup final defeat to Tottenham 13 days earlier.

What else happened in April 1999?

  • British television is left in mourning when popular presenter, Jill Dando is shot dead on the doorstep of her home in Fulham, west London.
  • David Copeland plants three nail bombs in three weeks across the capital. The third in The Admiral Duncan pub in Soho kills a pregnant woman and injures 70 others.
  • Two teenagers open fire in Colorado in the Columbine High School massacre. 12 students and 1 teacher are killed, before they kill themselves.
  • Former EastEnders actress Martine McCutcheon reaches number one in the UK Singles Chart with her debut single,“Perfect Moment”
  • A minimum wage is introduced in the UK for the first time, set at £3.60 an hour for workers over 21 and £3 for workers under 21.
  • The UN suspends sanctions against Libya after two Libyans suspected of being behind the Lockerbie bombing of 1988 are handed over to Scottish authorities for trial in The Hague.
  • BSkyB Chief Executive Mark Booth announces his resignation after 18 months in the role.

Premier League Files: Noel Whelan

Premier League Career: Leeds United (1993-1995), Coventry City (1995-2000), Middlesbrough (2000-2003)

Noel Whelan began his career at Leeds United and went on to play for no fewer than 12 different clubs. With Leeds flying in the SkyBet EFL Championship, Whelan must be enjoying his role in media nowadays as the Matchday co-commentator for all of the club’s matches on BBC Radio Leeds.

Although it was at Leeds where he started out, Whelan’s most productive Premier League period was a five-year spell at Coventry City, where he scored 31 times in 133 matches. He was often the creator who would pop up with vital goals and play a significant part in the development of the excellent partnership between Darren Huckerby and Dion Dublin.

Born in Leeds, he started his professional career with the men from Elland Road and other scouts had been impressed. He had trials as a youngster at Arsenal, Everton and Manchester United. However, his desire was to make the breakthrough at his boyhood club. Turning professional in March 1993, Whelan made his debut towards the end of the inaugural Premier League campaign, featuring in a 1-1 draw with Sheffield Wednesday in May.

His major breakthrough came in his second full season in the first-team – 1994-1995. Whelan made a brilliant start to the season, scoring a late winner in the club’s first home match of the season against Arsenal. He also found the target against Chelsea and his two goals beat Manchester City 2-0 in October 1994. Whelan ended with seven goals in 23 appearances but in January 1995, Howard Wilkinson felt that he wasn’t the answer to Leeds’s striking prowess. He ventured into the Bundesliga to sign Ghanaian hotshot Tony Yeboah from Eintracht Frankfurt. He immediately took Whelan’s place in the team and with Yeboah’s sharp eye for a deadly strike; Whelan’s days at Leeds were numbered.

After making eight appearances without scoring in 1995-1996, Whelan was sold for £2 million to Coventry City nine days before Christmas in 1995. Ron Atkinson believed he had a bargain and he’d been helped in the signing by a strong recommendation from his assistant, Gordon Strachan, who’d played alongside Whelan at Leeds. He scored the winner on his home debut against Everton and produced a wonderful solo strike at home to Southampton on New Years’ Day that was a contender for the BBC’s Goal of the Month. He finished with eight goals for the Sky Blues in 21 appearances as they avoided relegation on the final day of the season.

Another six strikes followed in 1996-1997 from 35 games but Huckerby’s arrival from Newcastle United meant he became the focal point of the attack and Strachan preferred to play him upfront alongside Dublin with Whelan often dropping in behind the forward pairing. His development saw him move more into a midfield role as his career at Coventry progressed and in 1997-1998, he came up with the opening goals in a shock win at home to Manchester United and in an impressive 2-2 draw with champions Arsenal.

Dublin’s departure for Aston Villa in November 1998 saw Whelan move back into a forward position midway through the 1998-1999 campaign and it was of a benefit to him as he produced his best Premier League goalscoring return of 10 goals in 31 matches. Coventry fans were excited by the potential partnership that was forming between Whelan and Huckerby but those hopes were to be dashed in August 1999 when Huckerby was sold to Leeds United and Whelan sustained a nasty injury in pre-season which meant he missed the bulk of the first half of the 1999-2000 campaign. With Robbie Keane now the main man in-attack and the exciting Moroccan duo of Youssef Chippo and Mustapha Hadji around, Whelan was no longer a first-choice player when he returned from injury and he left the club in August 2000.

Middlesbrough was his next destination for £2.2 million and ironically, he made his Boro bow as a substitute on the opening day of the 2000-2001 season in a 3-1 win away at Coventry. He spent three years on Teeside but struggled to recapture the form he’d shown at Coventry. The highest moment was a goal to knock Manchester United out of the FA Cup in 2002 at the fourth round stage.

That was the end of his Premier League time. He went on to play outside the top-flight in England with Crystal Palace, Millwall, Derby County, Boston United, Harrogate Town and Darlington. He also had unhappy spells in Scottish football with Aberdeen, Livingston and Dunfermline Athletic. He retired from playing in 2010 due to injury and other issues away from the football field.

In early January 2006, Whelan admitted to an addiction with alcohol and he was admitted to the Sporting Chance alcoholism treatment clinic that had been set-up by former England skipper, Tony Adams. Financial issues played a role in a troubled end to his playing days and Whelan was actually declared bankrupt in 2010.

After the end of his playing days, he had a brief time in coaching, having a spell as a youth team coach at Derby County before moving into the media industry at the start of 2013-2014. Alongside his Leeds commitments, Whelan also does some sporadic work for Sky Sports News as an in-studio match summariser.

Premier League Files: Harry Kewell

Premier League Career: Leeds United (1996-2003), Liverpool FC (2003-2008)

Most recently the manager of League Two club Notts County, Harry Kewell enjoyed a rapid rise in his career in a very energetic and exciting Leeds United side. Kewell won the PFA Young Player of the Year accolade in 2000 and was also part of the Liverpool FC squad that won the UEFA Champions League in 2005, although there was major personal disappointment for the Aussie in Istanbul.

A left winger capable of playing in the no.10 role or even as a second striker, Kewell made his English breakthrough at Leeds, earning a trial for four weeks as part of the Big Brother Movement in Australia. He travelled to England with Brett Emerton who would become a future Premier League player. Both had trials and both were successful but it was only Kewell who was able to take up Leeds’ offer due to his father’s English heritage, which satisfied the visa requirements.

After three seasons in the Leeds youth team which included victory in the 1997 FA Youth Cup final over Crystal Palace, the 1997-1998 season was Kewell’s breakthrough into the Leeds first-team under the management of George Graham. He had already made his Premier League debut under previous manager Howard Wilkinson when he featured in a 1-0 home defeat by Middlesbrough in March 1996 but he began to shine on a regular basis for the Yorkshire side during Graham’s reign. He scored five times in 1997-1998 and also collected the first red card of his career in a 4-3 win over Blackburn Rovers in September 1997. His development continued rapidly in 1998-1999, featuring in every single Premier League match, chalking up six goals and six assists.

Kewell was at his absolute best in 1999-2000. He scored 10 goals; helping Leeds to a third place finish in the Premier League and claimed 13 assists which was the second-highest total in the entire division. His excellent goal at Hillsborough in April 2000 won the Leeds United Goal of the Year award and in the same month, he was selected as PFA Young Player of the Year and placed in the PFA Team of the Year. The only blemish was a red card in the second leg of the UEFA Cup semi-final defeat to Galatasaray – an event overshadowed by attacks on Leeds supporters ahead of the first leg in Istanbul which led to the death of two fans.

Italian giants Inter Milan attempted to prize Harry away that summer but their £25 million bid was rejected, with Leeds believing his value was far too high to sell a prized asset. Kewell continued to shine, helping the Yorkshire side to a place in the semi-finals of the 2000-2001 UEFA Champions League although injuries restricted him to just 17 league appearances in that campaign.

By now though, Leeds’ financial difficulties saw them having to sell many of their key players. Kewell’s impressive return of 14 goals in 31 appearances in 2002-2003 including a scorching effort away at Highbury in May kept the club away from relegation danger. However, the crushing debts being piled up meant he was always going to be one of the stars the club were going to eventually have to cash in on. Over eight years at Leeds, he scored 45 goals in 181 Premier League appearances.

The way he left Leeds angered the supporters. Before his departure, he gave an interview to the BBC, criticising the staff at the club. There were plenty of suitors for him including AC Milan, Barcelona and Chelsea. However, Harry elected to move to the club he supported as a boy – Liverpool FC. His £5 million move in the summer of 2003 also saw Czech midfielder Vladimir Smicer reluctantly give up the no.7 shirt at Anfield to the new arrival.

He started well in a Reds shirt. His first goal came in a 3-0 Merseyside Derby victory over Everton at Goodison Park and he added six further goals including a goal on his first return to Elland Road since leaving in February 2004. 2004-2005 didn’t go to plan. Just one Premier League goal in a 1-1 draw at Aston Villa and chronic time on the treatment table meant he lost his regular place in the team. Arguably, it was his worst-ever season in English football.

So, it was a big surprise when new boss Rafa Benitez selected him in the starting XI for the 2005 UEFA Champions League final against AC Milan ahead of the more defensively-minded Dietmar Hamann. AC Milan raced into a 3-0 lead and Kewell was off the pitch and replaced by Smicer inside 25 minutes, limping off with a torn abductor muscle. He was infamously booed off by many supporters who believed he’d faked the injury. It looked like he was on borrowed time on Merseyside.

However, he defied the critics in 2005-2006, scoring three cracking goals including a matchwinner against Tottenham Hotspur in January 2006. One of his best displays came in a 3-1 victory over Merseyside rivals Everton two months later, scoring the crucial third goal in the process. Kewell virtually started every match in the second half of the season, helping the Reds to the FA Cup final along the way. A torn groin muscle meant he only played 48 minutes in the final at The Millennium Stadium but this time, he received a more sympathetic response from Liverpool supporters on his exit from the contest. They appreciated his contribution to their best-ever Premier League season in terms of points total – registering 82 from 38 games.

Kewell recovered from the injury to play in the 2006 World Cup finals for his country Australia. On a stormy night in Stuttgart which saw Graham Poll dish out three red cards, Kewell scored the crucial equaliser in the 2-2 draw which took the Socceroos into the round-of-16 for the first time in their history. In total, he won 58 caps for Australia, scoring 17 goals. He also remains the youngest player to have debuted for his country when he played against Chile in April 1996, aged 17 years and 7 months.

Unfortunately, injury was never far away and it ruined his final two seasons in English football. Harry was on the sidelines in 2006-2007 until the end of April and made just two Premier League appearances for Liverpool FC, scoring a stoppage-time penalty on the final day against Charlton Athletic. It turned out to be his last-ever goal for the club. He was released in May 2008, moving onto Galatasaray where he spent three seasons before winding down his playing career back in Australia at Melbourne Victory and Melbourne Heart via a brief three-game spell with Al-Gharafa in 2013. He announced his retirement aged 35 in March 2014.

Following his retirement, Harry moved straight into coaching. Married to the former Emmerdale actress Sheree Murphy, he successfully completed his UEFA coaching licenses and took his first coaching job at Watford as Head Coach of their Under-21 team. He left in April 2017 after a poor run of results but a month later, was appointed boss of League Two team Crawley Town, becoming the first Australian to coach a professional English side. After just over a year at Crawley, he was poached by their League Two rivals Notts County in late August 2018, succeeding Kevin Nolan. However, after just 14 games in-charge and with the team still leaking goals near the foot of the table, he was axed in November 2018.

Premier League Files: Jason Wilcox

Premier League Career: Blackburn Rovers (1992-1999), Leeds United (1999-2004)

Jason Wilcox was one of the unsung heroes of Blackburn Rovers’ title-winning success in 1995. A product of Blackburn’s youth academy, he enjoyed his career with Rovers, being on their books for a decade. On his departure in December 1999 for Leeds United, he was the club’s longest-serving player. It was during this period that he managed to win three caps for England.

He joined Blackburn at the age of 16. His youth team manager at the time, Jim Furnell described him as “one of the best young midfielders in English football.” He would eventually make 271 league appearances for Blackburn, captaining the side on occasion too. It was at a time where Jack Walker’s multi-millions saw the club emerge from also-rans in the Second Division to become serious challengers for the Premier League title. Walker signed the likes of Alan Shearer, Stuart Ripley and Tim Flowers for vast sums of money but Wilcox was a proven success from Blackburn’s academy and was well-trusted by the management team at Ewood Park of Kenny Dalglish and Ray Harford.

Playing on the left wing of Blackburn’s 4-4-2 formation, he formed an excellent understanding on the left-side of the field with Graeme Le Saux. It was Wilcox’s job to provide the crosses and key passes for the original SAS’ partnership of Shearer and Chris Sutton to gobble up the goals. In the 1994-1995 title-winning campaign, he picked up two early season red cards in away matches against Arsenal and Nottingham Forest. However, he eventually settled down, popping up with some crucial goals and a number of assists to help Blackburn end their 81-year wait for a top-flight championship. Whilst it was the likes of Shearer, Sutton and skipper Tim Sherwood who took the plaudits, it was the likes of Wilcox that played just as a pivotal part to help them to their success.

Unfortunately, lengthy injury problems restricted Jason’s impact on the first-team spotlight in the seasons to come and eventually, Blackburn’s decline saw them slip out of the Premier League just four seasons after winning the title. With the emergence of the promising Damien Duff, Blackburn elected to cash in on Wilcox just before the end of the 20th century and Leeds paid £4 million for his services.

He scored on his Leeds debut and his excellent initial form saw him called into Kevin Keegan’s provisional squad for the 2000 European Championships, winning caps in pre-tournament matches against France and Argentina. Unfortunately, injury denied him his place in the competition as he was replaced by Gareth Barry.

Jason bounced back from this crushing disappointment and helped his club side reach the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League in 2001. Leeds though couldn’t take their promise onto the next level and eventually, crippling financial pressures saw them being forced to sell their top stars. In 2004, the inevitable happened and they were relegated. Wilcox was released following their demise from the Premier League and he joined Leicester City on a one-year deal. He finished his career with Blackpool in 2006.

After retiring from football, he took time out from the game before joining the commentary staff of BBC Radio Lancashire for a year, as well as having his own weekly column in the Lancashire Telegraph. In 2013, he joined Manchester City as an Academy Director which is a position he still holds today.

The Managers: David O’Leary

Premier League Clubs Managed: Leeds United (1998-2002), Aston Villa (2003-2006)

It has been seven years since David O’Leary has held down a position as a manager and over 12 years since his last Premier League job. It is rather unlikely now that a man who still holds the record for most-ever appearances for Arsenal as a player will return to the dugout.

O’Leary’s playing career saw him win two league championships with Arsenal and also play a key role in the Republic of Ireland’s run to the 1990 World Cup quarter-finals in Italy. As a manager, his best achievement was getting Leeds United to a UEFA Champions League semi-final in 2001 and equalling a successive wins record in his first season as Leeds boss, set by Don Revie’s all-conquering side of the 1970s.

An Arsenal stalwart

As a player, O’Leary played as a no-nonsense central defender and was a heartbeat of the Arsenal sides throughout the 1970s and 1980s. He made his league debut for the Londoners in 1975 and would go on to make a club-record total of 558 league appearances and 722 in total.

His first major honour as an Arsenal player came as part of the winning FA Cup squad in 1979 when they beat Manchester United in a thrilling conclusion to that final. He actually featured in three successive cup finals as the Gunners made the showpiece event in English football at the time in 1978 and 1980, losing to Ipswich Town and West Ham United respectively.

In November 1989, he surpassed George Armstrong’s all-time record of club appearances. By now, the new generation of central defenders was coming through and O’Leary was playing the back-up role to Tony Adams and Steve Bould. Nevertheless, he was still very influential in the dressing room at Highbury as Arsenal ended Merseyside’s dominance of the league championship to win the crown in 1989, beating Liverpool FC at Anfield in that unbelievable climax to the 1988-1989 season.

A second league title followed in 1991 and his last honours came with the FA Cup and League Cup double of 1993. That summer, he ended his 19-year association with the club, joining Leeds United on a free transfer. He made only 10 league appearances before an Achilles injury was sustained which he never recovered from. David announced his retirement from professional football in 1995, having not played for nearly two years.

On the international scene, O’Leary will always be remembered for one of the most important strikes of a football in the history of the Republic of Ireland. It was his decisive goal in the shootout victory over Romania in Genoa that took the Irish to the World Cup quarter-finals in 1990. It was their maiden World Cup campaign. He won 68 caps for his country, scoring just once in a European Championship qualifier against Turkey.

Getting George’s job

O’Leary’s first break arrived in September 1996 when Leeds United sacked their 1992 title-winning manager, Howard Wilkinson. Former Arsenal boss George Graham was installed as his successor and he immediately put O’Leary on his coaching staff as his assistant. O’Leary learned a lot from the master and when Graham left for the Tottenham Hotspur job in early October 1998, he had a chance of getting George’s job.

Leeds’ preferred candidate at the time was the Leicester City boss Martin O’Neill. However, he elected to stay loyal to his current employers and turned the job down. Having not managed to attract the big name, the hierarchy decided to upgrade O’Leary to the managerial role on a full-time basis. There was a lot of trust placed in him and David didn’t disappoint. He allowed the likes of Jonathan Woodgate, Harry Kewell and Alan Smith to blossom in the first-team and kept the experienced personnel of Lucas Radebe and Nigel Martyn around to help the young chargers out.

Leeds went on a stunning run of seven successive league victories in the Spring period of 1999, equalling a record set by Revie’s championship-winning sides of the 1970s. Only a goalless draw with Liverpool FC in mid-April stopped that sequence but Leeds finished an excellent fourth and qualified once again for the UEFA Cup.

In 1999-2000, Leeds led the table into the New Year, despite selling star striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink to Atletico Madrid. Although Manchester United successfully overtook them, Leeds went into April in second place in the table and a UEFA Cup semi-final. Then, the club was struck by tragedy.

Keeping Leeds together

24 hours before the European semi-final with Galatasaray, two Leeds United supporters were stabbed following altercations in Istanbul and both lost their lives. Leeds lost the semi-final over two legs and were united in grief. It took a lot out of the players who struggled through the remainder of the campaign, winning just one further match. However, they did enough to claim third place and a spot in the 2000-2001 UEFA Champions League after drawing on the final day at Upton Park. It was the least they deserved for a stunning year of football.

O’Leary kept Leeds together in such a tough time and with the added cash for the Champions League adventure, began to splash it out. Rio Ferdinand joined from West Ham United for £18 million and other big arrivals would follow, including Olivier Dacourt, Robbie Keane and Robbie Fowler. Leeds enjoyed their maiden adventure in Europe’s premier club competition. The likes of AC Milan and Deportivo La Coruna were beaten and Leeds went further than any other English side, reaching the semi-finals before bowing out 3-0 on aggregate to Valencia.

Premier League form dipped though. European distractions left Leeds in a lowly 13th place in the table going into 2001 and despite a strong second half of the campaign; they were pipped to third spot on the final day thanks to Liverpool FC’s resounding 4-0 victory at The Valley. It wasn’t known at the time but this would be the start of Leeds’ decline. Peter Risdale had sanctioned transfer fees and spending believing the club would continue qualifying for the Champions League every season. It turned out to be a bad misjudgement.

In 2001-2002, Leeds topped the table again on New Years’ Day but they couldn’t sustain the pace set by Arsenal, Liverpool FC and Manchester United. Newcastle United’s remarkable improvement under Sir Bobby Robson pushed Leeds back into fifth position and another season of UEFA Cup football. Some Leeds fans were losing faith with O’Leary’s lack of silverware despite an enthusiastic approach to the football they were seeing. Risdale agreed and sacked the manager in June 2002.

Onto Villa

After a season on the sidelines, O’Leary returned to management in June 2003, succeeding Graham Taylor as manager of Aston Villa. Villa had finished the previous season in an underwhelming 16th position and were hoping for much better. However, they didn’t have a huge budget as Doug Ellis had rained in the spending. Only the relegated Sunderland duo of Thomas Sorensen and Gavin McCann were acquired in pre-season.

It was a slow start and Villa sunk to 18th in the table when they lost 4-0 to Manchester United at Old Trafford in December 2003. Yet, they went on a wonderful run in the second half of the season and only narrowly missed out on UEFA Cup qualification after a final day defeat to the Red Devils. Villa finished in sixth position, keeping O’Leary’s impressive record up of never finishing outside the top six as a Premier League boss.

The next two seasons afterwards were unremarkable and disappointing for all connections. Villa dropped to 10th in 2004-2005 and 16th in 2005-2006. The signings of Milan Baros and Kevin Phillips didn’t quite work out and with Ellis about to sell the club to American businessman Randy Lerner, O’Leary departed in the summer of 2006 by mutual consent.

His only managerial appointment since was a short spell with Al-Ahli in the United Arab Emirates. He won just six of his 15 matches’ in-charge and was sacked in April 2011. A messy two years followed with a financial dispute between the club and O’Leary which was eventually settled with David winning £3.34m in compensation through the FIFA players’ status committee.

O’Leary still lives in Yorkshire today and does some work for Arsenal as a club ambassador.

Premier League Rewind: 2nd-3rd February 2002

Results: Derby County 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal 1-1 Southampton, Everton 1-2 Ipswich Town, Fulham 0-0 Aston Villa, Leicester City 2-3 Chelsea, Manchester United 4-1 Sunderland, Newcastle United 3-2 Bolton Wanderers, West Ham United 2-0 Blackburn Rovers, Leeds United 0-4 Liverpool FC, Middlesbrough 0-0 Charlton Athletic

The 2001-2002 Premier League title battle was becoming a very intense fight between many of the top-flight’s superpowers. Despite a lackadaisical start to the season by their high standards, Manchester United were now top of the table and chasing a fourth successive title victory.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s side won their 10th match in their last 11 outings with a comfortable 4-1 home victory over an out-of-form Sunderland side at Old Trafford. All four goals were scored in the first half by the hosts with Ruud van Nistelrooy adding another two to his growing collection. There was also a rare goal for Phil Neville. Sunderland were now without a win in six games and slipped to 15th in the table, just three points clear of the relegation zone.

Arsenal were the Red Devils’ closest challengers going into the weekend but they ended it back in fourth position after being held at Highbury to a 1-1 draw by Southampton. On the weekend where the club revealed their new club crest to be used from the 2002-2003 season onwards, Sylvain Wiltord put the Gunners ahead five minutes before half-time. Jo Tessem’s equaliser would turn out to be the final dropped points of Arsenal’s season.

Newcastle United’s impressive campaign continued. Sir Bobby Robson’s side did trail twice at home to Bolton Wanderers but came back to win 3-2 with the winning goal coming from Craig Bellamy. After their bright start which had seen a maximum haul of points back in August, Bolton were now in the bottom three.

It wasn’t a happy reunion for Robbie Fowler in his first meeting with Liverpool FC since his £11 million transfer to Leeds United in November 2001. Liverpool were in devastating form at Elland Road, crushing the home side 4-0 with Emile Heskey scoring twice. Liverpool overtook Arsenal to move into third place with three successive victories for stand-in manager Phil Thompson. Having been top on New Years’ Day, Leeds were now down to sixth and nine points off the pace. Their title challenge looked as good as over.

Having resigned from his position as Aston Villa manager, John Gregory returned to his former club Derby County and made a winning start. Lee Morris scored a very scrappy goal to ensure the Rams edged out Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 at Pride Park. After four successive defeats, the victory kept Derby just about in touch with the pack above them in the scrap to survive.

Going in the wrong direction were Blackburn Rovers. After a positive start to their Premier League return, Graeme Souness’ side were going through a trough in terms of their league results. Their fifth reverse in six games came at Upton Park, losing 2-0 to West Ham United. This left Blackburn only above the relegation zone on goal difference  and it was a far cry from the corresponding fixture earlier in the season when the former Premier League champions had thrashed the Hammers 7-1.

Meanwhile, Ipswich Town were going in the right direction. The 2000-2001 surprise packages recorded their seventh victory in eight games with a 2-1 success away to Everton. Ipswich had climbed to 12th and were just three points off eighth place as they were recovering brilliantly from their horrific start to the campaign. Sadly for George Burley, a heavy defeat to Liverpool FC in their very next game would start a worrying drop down the table towards eventual relegation from the top-flight.

What else happened in February 2002?

  • There is sad news from Buckingham Palace as the Queen’s sister; Princess Margaret dies after suffering a stroke. She was 71.
  • The Winter Olympics take place in Salt Lake City and Great Britain win a gold medal thanks to the women’s curling team.
  • Actor John Thaw, best-known for playing lead roles in Inspector Morse and Kavanagh QC, dies just seven weeks after his 60th birthday. 
  • Saturday nights get a new hit as the first series of Pop Idol concludes on ITV. Over 8.7 million votes are casted as Will Young beats Gareth Gates to win the competition.
  • The trial of the former president of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic begins in The Hague.
  • More than 2,000 jobs disappear when Ford ends 90 years of British car production after the last Fiesta model is completed in Dagenham.

Great Goals: Niclas Jensen – MANCHESTER CITY vs. Leeds United (January 2003)

Full-back Niclas Jensen won three Danish league championships with FC Copenhagen and also had spells playing for PSV Eindhoven, Borussia Dortmund and Fulham.

However, before he joined the Cottagers in 2005, he had already experienced English football with Manchester City. Goalscoring was not a forte of Jensen’s play (he only managed two for the Citizens) but against Leeds United in January 2003, he scored the goal of his life.

The home side were leading 1-0 early in the second half when Jensen produced this spectacular volley. Nicolas Anelka ran down the right-hand side, gamely being chased by Leeds’ Danny Mills. Anelka picked out Jensen on the other side of the pitch. The Dane’s control was magnificent and it was a special strike.

It was one of the finest goals to have been scored in the final season of professional football at Maine Road and ensures Jensen has a fond place in the hearts of many City supporters.

Great Goals: Stan Collymore – BRADFORD CITY vs. Leeds United (October 2000)

Signing Stan Collymore in October 2000 was seen as the final throw of the dice for manager Chris Hutchings, who badly needed a result to save his position in the post. Bradford were bottom ahead of this Yorkshire Derby with Leeds United.

Collymore made an instant impact on his debut with this glorious goal. Leeds presented the opportunity to the home side with some sloppy passing. Benito Carbone picked out Collymore with a brilliant cross and the forward produced an instinctive overhead kick which was straight out of the top-draw.

His stay at Bradford was largely forgettable apart from this moment and although Leeds did recover to earn a share of the spoils on this Sunday afternoon, this remains one of Collymore’s finest Premier League efforts.

Premier League Files: Olivier Dacourt

Premier League Career: Everton (1998-1999), Leeds United (2000-2002), Fulham (2009)

Former French international Olivier Dacourt was a big part of Leeds United’s run to the 2001 UEFA Champions League semi-finals and he is best known for some impressive power behind his shots on-goal.

Dacourt made his professional debut in 1993 playing for Strasbourg in the French league and featured 127 times for the club over the course of the next five years. Everton and Walter Smith brought him to the Premier League in the summer of 1998. He quickly became a fans favourite at the club and scored a wonderful goal in the Merseyside Derby of April 1999, even though the Toffees lost 3-2 to Liverpool FC at Anfield. Less than a month later, Dacourt stated his desire to leave having admitted he hadn’t settled as well as he hoped. Everton fans responded by booing him constantly during their final home game of the 1998-1999 season; a 6-0 thumping of West Ham United.

Olivier got his move back to France, joining RC Lens but after one season back in his home country, he was back in the Premier League. Moving to Leeds United for £7.2 million in the summer of 2000, he became Leeds’ most-expensive player. His tenacious style of play meant he became a favourite with the faithful at Elland Road. Playing alongside David Batty, he was a regular member of David O’Leary exciting side that impressed European football by reaching the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League before being beaten by Valencia over two legs.

He scored three times that season, including a free-kick winner to defeat league runners-up Arsenal. His form for Leeds saw him become an international regular with France and although he missed out on the country’s dire World Cup defence of 2002, he won the Confederations Cup twice and made their EURO 2004 squad. By now, he was playing in Italy after a spectacular falling out with Terry Venables led to him being frozen out of the first-team picture in Yorkshire. He then had nine games with Fulham on-loan in 2009 before ending his career with Standard Liege in 2010.

Dacourt is now a television pundit back in his native France.

The Clubs: Leeds United

All-Time Premier League Record

Played Won Drew Lost Scored Conceded Goal Difference Points No of Seasons
468 189 125 154 641 573 +68 692 12

 

Most Premier League Appearances

Player Appearances Total
Gary Kelly 325
Ian Harte 214
Nigel Martyn 207
Lee Bowyer 203
David Wetherall 201
Lucas Radebe 197
Harry Kewell 181
Rod Wallace 178
Alan Smith 171
Gary McAllister 151

 

Most Premier League Goals

Player Goals Total
Mark Viduka 59
Harry Kewell 45
Rod Wallace 42
Lee Bowyer 38
Alan Smith 38
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink 34
Brian Deane 32
Ian Harte 28
Tony Yeboah 24
Gary McAllister 24

 

Biggest Premier League Victories

Match Date Season
Leeds United 6-1 Bradford City 13th May 2001 2000-2001
Charlton Athletic 1-6 Leeds United 5th April 2003 2002-2003
Leeds United 5-0 Tottenham Hotspur 25th August 1992 1992-1993
Swindon Town 0-5 Leeds United 7th May 1994 1993-1994
Derby County 0-5 Leeds United 15th March 1998 1997-1998
West Ham United 1-5 Leeds United 1st May 1999 1998-1999
Leeds United 4-0 Wimbledon 2nd October 1993 1993-1994
Queens Park Rangers 0-4 Leeds United 4th April 1994 1993-1994
Leeds United 4-0 Queens Park Rangers 24th January 1995 1994-1995
Leeds United 4-0 Ipswich Town 5th April 1995 1994-1995

 

Worst Premier League Defeats

Match Date Season
Portsmouth 6-1 Leeds United 8th November 2003 2003-2004
Liverpool FC 5-0 Leeds United 20th January 1996 1995-1996
Arsenal 5-0 Leeds United 16th April 2004 2003-2004
Sheffield Wednesday 6-2 Leeds United 16th December 1995 1995-1996
Manchester City 4-0 Leeds United 7th November 1992 1992-1993
Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 Leeds United 20th February 1993 1992-1993
Leeds United 0-4 Norwich City 21st August 1993 1993-1994
Leeds United 0-4 Manchester United 7th September 1996 1996-1997
Liverpool FC 4-0 Leeds United 19th February 1997 1996-1997
Leeds United 0-4 Arsenal 16th April 2000 1999-2000

 

Managers

Manager No of Seasons managed Left the Club
Howard Wilkinson 5 10th September 1996
George Graham 3 1st October 1998
David O’Leary 4 27th June 2002
Terry Venables 1 21st March 2003
Peter Reid 2 10th November 2003
Eddie Gray 1 31st May 2004

 

Highest Home Attendances

Match Date Attendance Figure Season
Leeds United 0-2 Manchester United 27th April 1994 41,125 1993-1994
Leeds United 3-4 Newcastle United 22nd December 2001 40,287 2001-2002
Leeds United 1-1 Manchester United 25th April 1999 40,255 1998-1999
Leeds United 1-0 Middlesbrough 11th May 2002 40,218 2001-2002
Leeds United 0-4 Liverpool FC 3rd February 2002 40,216 2001-2002
Leeds United 3-1 Aston Villa 11th May 2003 40,205 2002-2003
Leeds United 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur 4th November 2001 40,203 2001-2002
Leeds United 0-1 Newcastle United 6th February 1999 40,202 1998-1999
Leeds United 3-2 Everton 19th December 2001 40,201 2001-2002
Leeds United 1-4 Arsenal 28th September 2002 40,199 2002-2003

 

Intro

Leeds United were one of the biggest clubs in England when the Premier League was formed. They were the reigning English champions when the new era began in 1992 and were a regular finisher in the top six throughout the first decade. This included a 3rd place finish under David O’Leary’s management in 2000. Leeds spent big to try and break Manchester United’s dominance but this led to crippling debts. Just three years after reaching the Champions League semi-finals, Leeds were relegated in 2004 and haven’t been back in the top-flight since.

 

1992-1993

Having finished as champions in the last Football League season before the formation of the Premier League, Leeds United struggled and finished just two points clear of relegation. They were knocked out of the UEFA Champions League by Scottish champions Rangers, bizarrely sold Eric Cantona to Pennines rivals Manchester United and failed to win a single league match away from Elland Road. Form was better on home turf for Howard Wilkinson’s side, with heavy wins against Blackburn Rovers and Tottenham Hotspur, whilst Lee Chapman was one of the star performers, scoring 13 goals.

 

1993-1994

Wilkinson broke the club’s transfer record in the summer of 1993 by paying Yorkshire rivals Sheffield United £2.7 million for Brian Deane’s services. There was a slow start with a heavy 4-0 loss to Norwich City among the low points. However, Leeds recovered and finished in a much-improved fifth place at the end of the season, only one point shy of qualifying for continental competition. Rod Wallace scored 17 goals but championship-winning player David Batty did depart during the season for Blackburn Rovers.

 

1994-1995

Consistency was a strong element of Leeds’ 1994-1995 campaign. They never dropped outside the top eight from the second match of the season. They did inflict a rare loss on Manchester United at Elland Road in September but goalscoring was a problem for Wilkinson’s side. Although there was initial promise from youngster Noel Whelan, it was the January signing Ghanaian striker Tony Yeboah from Eintracht Frankfurt that breathed new life into an unremarkable but solid side. Yeboah ended as top scorer with 12 goals and nine wins from their last 13 games ensured a second successive finish in fifth place.

 

1995-1996

Leeds made a fantastic start to the 1995-1996 season, winning their first three matches with Yeboah in stunning shooting form. He was forming his own Goal of the Season shortlist, with spectacular goals in victories over Liverpool FC, Wimbledon and Sheffield Wednesday. When his goal beat Chelsea on 18th November, Leeds sat fifth in the table but their season nosedived after this result. A run of six successive defeats following a League Cup final defeat at the hands of Aston Villa ensured a disappointing 13th place finish – well below the club’s lofty expectations.

 

1996-1997

It was the end of an era at Leeds United on 10th September 1996 as the club elected to sack their 1992 championship-winning manager Howard Wilkinson. Despite winning two of their first five league matches, a demoralising 4-0 home defeat to Manchester United spelt the end of Wilkinson’s successful reign at Elland Road. George Graham returned to management after a one-year suspension and made Leeds tough to beat. However, they scored just 28 goals in 38 matches, finishing with the worst goalscoring total in the Premier League. Nevertheless, Leeds kept a staggering 20 clean sheets and finished in 11th place with a better defensive record than champions Manchester United.

 

1997-1998

After two frustrating seasons, Leeds returned to the Premier League’s top five as George Graham secured UEFA Cup qualification. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink arrived in pre-season and finished as the club’s top goalscorer with 16 goals. There was a 1-0 win over Manchester United in September and resounding home victories against Newcastle United (4-1) and Blackburn Rovers (4-0). The foundations had been put in place for a successful few seasons for the Leeds faithful.

 

1998-1999

Unbeaten in their opening seven matches, the club were stunned in early October when George Graham walked out to move back to north London, filling the vacancy at Tottenham Hotspur. When no.1 target Martin O’Neill elected to stay at Leicester City, it was Graham’s former assistant, David O’Leary who was appointed as his successor. It was a young squad but O’Leary achieved great things. They strung together a seven-game winning sequence to match a record set by Don Revie’s all-conquering side of the 1970s and Leeds finished in fourth place. Hasselbaink shared the Golden Boot with Michael Owen and Dwight Yorke, scoring 18 times.

 

1999-2000

The 1999-2000 Premier League season was the most competitive for Leeds United. They launched a serious title challenge to Manchester United, topping the table at the end of 1999. Their youthful side really sparkled with Harry Kewell winning the PFA Young Player of the Year and Michael Bridges scoring 19 goals in his first season wearing Leeds colours.

A 1-0 loss to Manchester United at Elland Road in mid-February effectively ended their challenge and inexperience did catch up on them, ultimately finishing 22 points adrift of the champions from Old Trafford. Tragedy also shook the club to the core when two Leeds supporters were stabbed to death on the streets of Istanbul just hours before their UEFA Cup semi-final with Galatasaray.

There was a silver lining though. A goalless draw on the final day at Upton Park secured UEFA Champions League football for the following campaign with a 3rd place finish.

 

2000-2001

In Europe, Leeds United really made a statement of intent by reaching the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League. They beat the likes of Lazio, Deportivo La Coruna and AC Milan along the way before bowing out over two legs to Valencia. David O’Leary had now become one of the game’s most in-demand managers.

Initially, the demands of UCL action meant an inconsistent start to the Premier League season and Leeds even went into 2001 in the bottom half of the table. They rallied in the second half of the campaign but were edged into fourth place on the final day by treble cup winners, Liverpool FC.

Leeds broke the British transfer record for a defender during the season, spending £18 million on Rio Ferdinand in November 2000 but their failure to qualify for Europe’s premier club competition for a second successive season would start to have a worrying impact on their future finances.

 

2001-2002

Leeds launched another strong push for the championship in 2001-2002. They were part of a five-club battle for the summit, together with Newcastle United, Liverpool FC, Arsenal and Manchester United. Tough-tackling midfielder Seth Johnson and goalscoring hotshot Robbie Fowler were added to the squad during the season for a combined fee of £18 million.

O’Leary had plenty of options and a 3-0 victory over West Ham United on New Years’ Day took Leeds to the top of the table. However, a seven-game winless sequence followed which included defeats to Liverpool and Newcastle along with a shock FA Cup exit at Division Two side Cardiff City knocked the stuffing out of their season. Leeds eventually finished in fifth place.

Chairman Peter Risdale decided the manager was to blame and sacked O’Leary in June, with no silverware and no Champions League football either. He was now aware of a huge hole in the club’s finances.

 

2002-2003

By now, Leeds’ debts were racking up and were being noted in the public eye. Many star players were now being sold to balance the books. Manchester United signed Rio Ferdinand for £30 million, Robbie Keane was sold to Tottenham Hotspur and Robbie Fowler joined Manchester City in the January transfer window.

Terry Venables succeeded O’Leary as manager and despite winning four of their first six games; Leeds struggled all campaign and were closer to the relegation zone for much of the season. Venables quit in March, not fancying a tussle at the bottom and it was Peter Reid who steered them to the end of the season. A 3-2 victory at Arsenal on the penultimate weekend secured their Premier League safety but a 15th place finish was not what anyone wanted. Worse was to come though.

 

2003-2004

Debts had now reached the £100 million mark and Harry Kewell was the next star to leave, with the Australian joining Liverpool FC. Leeds collected just eight points from their first 12 games and after a 6-1 humbling at newly-promoted Portsmouth in November, Peter Reid was sacked.

Former player Eddie Gray was handed the poisoned chalice and Leeds did record a draw with Chelsea plus victories against Charlton Athletic and Fulham. However, a terrible run of seven successive defeats which started with a 3-1 loss at Wolverhampton Wanderers ended any realistic hopes of staying in the Premier League.

On Sunday 2nd May, Leeds’ 14-year stay in the top-flight ended with a 4-1 loss to Bolton Wanderers. More stars left in the off-season including Paul Robinson, Alan Smith and Mark Viduka. Finances have improved since but apart from one play-off final defeat in 2006, Leeds have remained a club in the mid-table reaches of the Championship.

Premier League Rewind: 4th-6th December 1999

Results: Aston Villa 0-1 Newcastle United, Bradford City 1-1 Middlesbrough, Leicester City 0-3 Arsenal, Manchester United 5-1 Everton, Southampton 0-0 Coventry City, Sunderland 4-1 Chelsea, Wimbledon 5-0 Watford, Derby County 0-1 Leeds United, Liverpool FC 4-1 Sheffield Wednesday, Tottenham Hotspur 0-0 West Ham United

December 1999 was the final month of the 20th century and the 1999-2000 season was a campaign that was seeing plenty of goals and a lot of drama too. On this particular weekend, fans at Premier League grounds up-and-down the country would see either no goals at all or a host of efforts hitting the back of the net.

The league leaders going into the weekend were David O’Leary young, exciting Leeds United side. Leeds had lost just one of their last 12 matches and been top of the table since early October. They travelled to Derby County looking to protect their narrow advantage over Manchester United. This was the repeat round of fixtures from the opening weekend of the season and for the second time in the campaign; it looked like Derby were going to get a goalless draw.

Then, referee Paul Alcock gave a slightly fortuitous penalty to the away side and Ian Harte dispatched the spot-kick to give the visitors a narrow 1-0 win and regain their two-point cushion at the head of the Premier League table.

Manchester United had spent a day at the summit after thumping Everton 5-1 at Old Trafford. For the second time in 1999, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored four times in a match as Sir Alex Ferguson’s side turned on the style in their first game back since winning the Intercontinental Cup in Tokyo.

Arsenal and Sunderland kept their challenges going with convincing wins. Arsenal enjoyed a good victory at Filbert Street; a ground which had caused them trouble in previous seasons. Marc Overmars was among the scorers in the 3-0 victory, although Leicester would later get revenge by knocking Arsene Wenger’s side out of the FA Cup two months later.

Sunderland’s season had been built around a deadly strike partnership and they tore Chelsea apart at The Stadium of Light. Both Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips scored twice as they raced into a 4-0 lead before half-time. Gianluca Vialli’s side were eventually beaten 4-1 and were miles off the pace. Since beating Manchester United 5-0 in early October, Chelsea had won just one of their last seven matches, slipped to ninth in the table and were now 14 points off the pace.

Liverpool FC recovered from conceding an early goal to Niclas Alexandersson of Sheffield Wednesday, eventually overcoming the league’s bottom side 4-1. This game was notable for the first goal in a Liverpool shirt for a youngster by the name of Steven Gerrard. He would score another 185 goals in all competitions for the club he cared about the most. With just one win from 16 games, Sheffield Wednesday’s situation already looked rather desperate.

They were joined in the bottom three by Derby County and Watford. Graham Taylor’s men were on the receiving end of a 5-0 thrashing by Wimbledon at Selhurst Park. This scoreline was Wimbledon’s biggest victory in their Premier League career and had them closer to mid-table than the drop zone at this stage of the season. Their downward plight would only begin in the new millennium.

What else happened in December 1999?

  • Celebrations take place across the world to herald the millennium. In the UK, this sees the unveiling of the London Eye and the opening of the Millennium Dome.
  • After eight years in power, Boris Yeltsin resigns as President of Russia.
  • Former Beatles singer George Harrison is attacked in his home in Oxfordshire, suffering minor stab wounds.
  • After 442 years of Portuguese settlement, the sovereignty of Macau is transferred to the People’s Republic of China.
  • Tori Murden became the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean by rowboat alone, when she reached Guadeloupe from the Canary Islands. She had been rowing for 81 days.
  • 137 people are killed by Storm Lothar which sweeps through southern parts of Germany, France and Switzerland.
  • Torrential rains cause catastrophic floods and mudslides in coastal regions of Venezuela, killing an estimated 25,000 people and leaving 100,000 others homeless.