For the first time in 16 years, Leeds United are back in the Premier League after winning the EFL Championship. It is long overdue for a club who have gone through two ownership changes and 15 managers since relegation. The Peacocks have a rich history in the Premier League, finishing third in the 1999/00 season with a squad that reached the Champions league semi-finals the following year. So we decided to put together a Leeds United best Premier League players XI.
Leeds United best Premier League players XI
GK: Nigel Martyn (1996-2003)
Nigel Martyn was a mainstay in the Leeds goal during their best years in the Premier League and was always a consistently safe operator. He was regularly considered one of the top English goalkeepers in the 1990s despite only amassing 24 caps for England during his career, largely thanks to David Seaman. However, Leeds’ fans still think fondly of Martin and he was selected in Leeds’ all-time XI when it was revealed in 2006.
RB: Gary Kelly (1992-2007)
It would be hard to find anyone who represented Leeds more thoroughly than Gary Kelly. Having played for the club for the entirety of his career, Kelly’s pace and defensive awareness made him a difficult presence for attackers to get past time and time again. He was one of the more underrated players in the Leeds squad but his dedication and fortitude won him many plaudits from supporters and he more than warrants inclusion in any list of Leeds United best Premier League players.
LB: Ian Harte (1995-2004)
Ian Harte was a defender ahead of his time, acting as a trailblazer for offensive full-backs in the Premier League long before the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold were tearing it up. The key to his success was a rocket of a left foot that proved deadly from both free-kicks and corners. As well as a personal best of 7 goals in the 2000/2001 season, his pace and positioning made him a nightmare for attackers to play against. Playing alongside Gary Kelly, who bizarrely was his uncle, Harte was a formidable player in both defence and attack.
CB: Lucas Radebe (1994-2005)
Probably the best South African player to grace the Premier League. Lucas Radebe initially joined Leeds as part of a two-player deal, quickly becoming a fan favourite at Elland Road. His no-nonsense style and physical presence meant that there were very few who could get past him. He become Leeds captain in 1998 and was one of the inspirations behind Leeds fans and indie-pop sensations Kaiser Chiefs, who named their band after Radebe’s former club.
CB: Jonathan Woodgate (1998-2003)
Despite his career being blighted by injuries, Jonathan Woodgate was one of the best English defenders in an era that featured the likes of Sol Campbell, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry and Ledley King. His aerial presence helped disrupt attacks on a regular basis and he contributed goals from set-pieces at the other end as well. He was one of several home-grown players to star in the Leeds squad at the turn of the century and his strong performances finally earned him a move to Real Madrid a season after leaving Elland Road for Newcastle.
CM: Lee Bowyer (1996-2003)
Despite having a bad-boy reputation, there were few midfielders in the Premier League who were as tenacious as Lee Bowyer. Not afraid to get physical, Bowyer was a dynamo in the middle of the park with surging forward runs and the tenacity to disrupt plays before they even began. A regular threat in front of goal too, it is a surprise that the current Charlton manager only won a single cap for the England national side. However, two Leeds Player of the Season awards in 1998 & 2001 were testament to his ability.
CM: Eirik Bakke (1999-2006)
Perhaps a surprise inclusion in our Leeds United best Premier League players XI. Whilst he may have been quieter than some of his teammates, it is hard to debate that Eirik Bakke was not a key cog in the Leeds midfield. The Norwegian acted as the anchor of the midfield, acting as both defensive cover and the start of all the midfield manoeuvers. His skills on the ball were solid and was one of the consistent passers in the team every season making him an integral part of the lineup.
CM: Harry Kewell (1996-2003)
One of the best Australian footballers of all time, Harry Kewell provided Leeds with a serious attacking threat whenever he was on the ball. His pace and trickery bamboozled some of the best in the game and he could play anywhere in the final third as either a winger, midfielder or as a striker.
He scored some memorable goals in the Premier League and a career best of 14 goals in the 2002/03 season saw the Aussie earn a big-money move to Liverpool. Having won the 1999-2000 PFA Young Player of the Year and Leeds Player of the Year in 2000, it is not hard to see why Kewell was such a threat for The Peacocks
FW: Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (1997-1999)
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is one of the underrated strikers in Premier League history and it was during his time at Elland Road that the Dutchman introduced himself properly to the world. With deadly accuracy and quick pace, Hasselbaink was a real handful for defences up and down the league. In his short stint with Leeds, he notched up double figures each season in the Premier League, winning the 1998/99 Golden Boot. He later enjoyed more success with Chelsea after a brief stint in La Liga with Atletico Madrid.
FW: Tony Yeboah (1995-1997)
If anyone ever defined spectacular goals, it would most likely be Tony Yeboah. The Ghanaian became known for thunderous shots from outside of the area, of which a couple are still ranked as some of the best goals ever scored in the Premier League. Yeboah was a popular figure at Elland Road winning the 1996 Player of the Season award before he moved to Germany and finished his career with Hambug.
FW: Mark Viduka (2000-2004)
Another Australian sensation our Leeds United best Premier League players XI, Mark Viduka embodied everything a striker should stand for. Whilst he wasn’t the quickest on the pitch, his strength and finishing abilities made him deadly from anywhere within 18 yards. His goal tally stretched into double digits almost every season he played, with a career best of 20 during the 2001/02 campaign.
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