Top Five Leeds Players Who Got Away - Read If You Can!
By Sid1
Thursday 10 Dec 2009 09:42:00
Browse all Club History articles

Cantona vs Chelsea

Leeds United have an illustrious fascinating history, you couldn't script it. There's the highs, the painful lows, the triumphs, and the ones who got away! In this article we review the top five Leeds blunders which led to five players to leave Elland Road.


Ian Snodin arrived at Leeds in 1985 from Doncaster Rovers as a 22-year-old. Eddie Gray signed him for a fee of £200,000 and he instantly became a key part of United’s midfield. He was soon the captain of Leeds following the retirement of Peter Lorimer.

Early on in the 1985-86 season Eddie Gray was sacked by the Leeds board, and Doncaster Rovers manager Billy Bremner, whom Snodin had played for before joining Leeds arrived at the club. Snodin was a key part of the side that was en route to the FA Cup semi final.

His fantastic performances for Leeds attracted interest from England’s two best teams at the time, Liverpool, and Everton. In January 1987 Snodin joined Everton for a fee of £840,000 and instantly helped Everton towards the league title. Leeds went onto the FA Cup semi final, but was beaten in extra time by Coventry at Hillsborough 3-2. However, with Snodin’s presence within the Leeds squad, could Leeds have gone further in the FA Cup, and even attained promotion?


Don Revie tried to sign Asa Hartford in 1971, but despite all parties agreeing a fee and Hartford also training with the Leeds first team, the deal didn’t go through.

It was detected in the medical that Hartford had a heart condition, a hole-in-the-heart. Hartford was a very talented midfielder who made 50 caps for Scotland, only four less than Bremner. The transfer was cancelled.

Hartford went on to play for Manchester City, Forest and Everton, all successful sides at the time, as well as a host of other clubs without any problem. Hartford’s failed transfer to Leeds has become infamous within the game.


Dennis Irwin arrived at Leeds in 1983 and quickly made his way up the ranks at Elland Road. The left-back made 72 appearances for the Whites before being released by Billy Bremner on a free transfer to Oldham Athletic. Four years later and with £625,000 exchanging hands between Oldham and scum, Irwin went on to play for scum 368 times in 12 years, including in the European Cup final of 1999.

Left-back is a position in which Leeds have struggled with during Irwin’s career in the game. Tony Dorigo is probably the best left-back Leeds has had since Irwin’s departure. He also went on to record 56 caps for Ireland.


David Seaman arrived on the books of Leeds in the late 1970’s as an understudy to first David Harvey, then John Lukic. Seaman was a big Leeds fan as a kid at a time when Leeds dominated the whole outlook of the English game. Seaman never actually made an appearance for Leeds, but was on numerous first team start of season photographs. Seaman’s favourite Leeds player was Eddie Gray, ironically the man who released Seaman to Peterborough in 1982. Despite Eddie being one of the best in the country for seeing potential in young players, this certainly has to go down as his biggest (if only) mistake.

Eight years later he signed for Arsenal, and stayed there for 13 years, winning pretty much every honour within the game and 75 caps for England. Despite United having John Lukic and Nigel Martyn in goal, they never came close to taking away England’s No1 shirt from Seaman.

Seaman is up there with the greatest goalkeepers England’s produced. To say that Leeds missed out is a big understatement.


“I don’t know what it is about you, but I love you.” Those were the words from Elland Road’s favourite Frenchman in 1992 at Leeds Civic Hall after the trophy presentation to around 40,000 who had gathered on the Headrow. A few months later and he buggered off to scum.

Leeds nicked Cantona from underneath the noses of Sheffield Wednesday, and he was to make 15 appearances in 1991-92, being instrumental in Leeds’ first league title for 18 years.

He scored one of Leeds’ best individual goals into the Kop versus Chelsea, and in the Charity Shield of the following season scored a hat-trick at Wembley as United defeated Liverpool 4-3.

Howard Wilkinson phoned up the scum chairman of the time to enquire about Denis Irwin, they rejected such a possibility, Fergie asked about the availability of Cantona...

...£1m later and the rest is history. Yeboah was better though.

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