Ranking 35 of Leeds United’s weirdest signings since relegation from the PL
Leeds United have made a handful of decent signings since being relegated from the Premier League in 2004, but they’ve made far, far more downright weird ones.
At one stage the club’s scouting and analysis department became so threadbare manager Brian McDermott had to ask other clubs for data on his own players.
Unsurprisingly, this has led to a host of names arriving at Elland Road which have left fans scratching their heads. Quite frankly, this list could have consisted of 35 entirely different players and would have still been just as weird.
35. Steve Stone
Surely the pointless answer for ‘England internationals to have played for Leeds United’? We say ‘played’ – Stone suffered an Achilles injury one month into training with the club which eventually required three operations after it became infected.
After recovering just in time to be an unused substitute as Leeds lost 3-0 to Watford in the play-off final, he retired midway through the following season after even more injuries.
34. Joel Griffiths
Reports in Australia suggested Griffiths took a big pay cut and rejected moves to Premier League side Bolton as well as Leicester City, Derby County, Sheffield United and Hearts to join Leeds from Swiss outfit Neuchatel Xamax.
Leeds demanded compensation from Xamax after the club delayed the transfer despite everything being agreed, but they finally landed the Australia international following a five-week hold up.
It really, really wasn’t worth all the fuss. Griffiths made just two substitute appearances for the club, costing him a place in the Australia squad for the 2006 World Cup squad.
He later accused manager Kevin Blackwell of “crucifying” him and offering “non-stop criticism”.
33 & 32. Craig Hignett & Steve Guppy
From the summer immediately after relegation from the Premier League to the end of their first season in the Championship, Leeds signed 27 players, while a further 25 permanently departed.
Hignett and Guppy fall into both of those camps, having joined on free transfers from Leicester City in August and being released a month later.
Whereas Hignett failed to appear for the first team, Guppy at least scored his first goal for four years in a draw with Nottingham Forest.
31. Luciano Becchio
Just because it worked doesn’t make it less weird.
Long blonde-haired, Argentine strikers that used to play for Barcelona aren’t meant to join League One sides.
30. Armando Sa
Forty-four players appeared for Leeds when they were relegated from the Championship in 2006-07, including a 32-year-old Mozambique international right-back on loan from Espanyol. We have no idea how or why that happened either.
29. Serge Branco
Picking up a Cameroon international midfielder with Bundesliga experience and an Olympic gold medal (in football, no less) ahead of their first season back in the Championship sounded too good to be true for Leeds.
“I had to think about it because I had the offer from QPR and it was a risk turning it down,” he told the club’s official website upon signing a one-year deal. “I think Leeds is a better club than QPR for my future and that’s why I am here.”
Less than two weeks later, he had been released and joined QPR anyway, which can’t have been awkward at all.
28. Amdy Faye
Giving a player a four-month deal due to fears he might be a bit too old and broken is not usually the sign of shrewd business.
As it transpired, Faye was released at the end of those four months because he was too old and broken.
27. Liam Dickinson
The curious case of Dickinson is highlighted rather superbly in Michael Calvin’s book The Nowhere Men.
Dickinson had attracted plenty of attention after scoring 35 goals in two years at Stockport County, but scouts that were sent to watch him concluded he “waddles around the pitch, he can’t fucking jump, his first touch is crap [and he] can’t head the ball”.
Undeterred, Derby County spent £750,000 to sign the player. He failed to make a single appearance for the Rams, nor did he manage to score a single goal after being sent on loan to Leeds in League One.
A year after leaving the club, Grayson gave his verdict on Dickinson at a fundraising event for Sherburn White Rose Under-11s: “Now, he was shit.”
Dickinson’s post-Leeds career hasn’t been without its highlights, though.
32 games. 6 goals.
Signed for a big fee at time and for 3 years. Was Dickinson the answer to our goal problems. In a word no.
Became famous for accidentally being snapped helping a paralytic student on a night out before training in the morning pic.twitter.com/wilUd2Ne4E
— Brétt Mendöza (@BrettMendoza) November 6, 2018
26 & 25. Wayne Andrews & Mark De Vries
Facing a selection crisis with strikers Jermaine Beckford, Tresor Kandol, Tore Andre Flo and Leon Constantine all sidelined, Leeds swooped to sign Andrews and De Vries on short-term loan deals.
Both players are considered two of the worst strikers to ever play for the club, although De Vries did actually score a late winner against Yeovil.
24. Filipe Da Costa
An absolute star – on YouTube compilations and Football Manager.
Given Da Costa has played for 19 different clubs, his eight-month stay in League One may not even be the weirdest spell of his career.
But eight appearances, one start and a red card in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy is undoubtedly very weird for a 23-year-old former Benfica prospect.
23. Danny Webber
It’s quite funny to think it took Leeds fans a little while to grow weary of Neil Warnock when his first signing after being appointed was his former Sheffield United striker Webber, who had been without a club since the end of the previous season and went on to make zero appearances at League One Doncaster the following year.
Leeds signing Danny Webber is either a statement of intent that Bates says there is no money or Warnock has lost it. Maybe both. You decide.
— Conor (@clarkbatfan) February 28, 2012
22. Tore Andre Flo
Continues the theme of over-the-hill, knackered players you don’t remember ever playing for Leeds.
21. Sebastian Sorsa
Dennis Wise signed Sorsa on an 18-month deal in January 2008 after being impressed by the winger on trial.
Before the month was over, Wise had jumped ship to Newcastle, and it seems as if nobody actually told Gary McAllister about the player he had inherited.
Sorsa earned more international call-ups for Finland than first-team appearances at Leeds during his spell at Elland Road.
He was released with 12 months left on his contract. Only fans who played too much Football Manager 10 years ago have any recollection of his existence.
20. Ramon Nunez
Another Da Costa, albeit with slightly more success on the pitch. Leeds followed Steve Bruce’s craze of signing Honduras internationals from Olimpia by snapping up Nunez after a trial period.
The attacking midfielder showed plenty of promise on YouTube compilations and earned two contract extensions despite struggling to break into the first team at Elland Road.
After a loan spell at Scunthorpe and Max Gradel’s departure, Nunez was given a chance with Leeds and initially impressed, prompting another new deal, this time a mammoth four-year contract with an option for a fifth.
Come the end of the season, he would find himself on the transfer list, though it would take another year before Leeds eventually bit the bullet and released the player.
19. Cameron Stewart
With Brian McDermott desperate to add some width to his attack in January 2014, Leeds pulled off what on the face of things appeared decent deals for Jimmy Kebe and Stewart.
A week after being dumped out of the FA Cup by Rochdale, the duo made their debuts as Leeds were thrashed 6-0 at Sheffield Wednesday as McDermott pioneered the 3-4-3 formation Antonio Conte replicated to great success with Chelsea.
Stewart had joined on loan with a three-year contract already agreed to begin come the end of the season.
He was so bad, Leeds reneged on the deal, and the former Manchester United man – currently without a club at the age of 27 – took legal action against the Whites.
18. Ryan Hall
In the post-Snograss-and-Gradel years, Leeds were always crying out for wingers.
Ever the maverick, Neil Warnock sought an unusual solution to the problem, signing Hall on loan from League Two Southend and encouraging the club to make the move a permanent deal despite seeming reluctant to actually use the player in the first team.
A two-and-a-half-year deal was completed, but he made just nine appearances for the side.
One year after initially joining the club, Hall was suspended by Leeds after tweeting: “Look on the bright side if you’re not getting played take the L out and get paid.”
He was released one month later and currently turns out for Eastbourne Borough.
Can we all just agree that Ryan Hall never played for Leeds United? Statisticians please note #lufc
— Jon Howe (@jonhowe1971) November 24, 2013
17. Paul Telfer
We’re not saying Telfer was too old by the time he joined Leeds United, but it was the second time he had come out of retirement.
Unsurprisingly, he turned out to be very, very, very slow. Once Gary McAllister had been sacked, Telfer failed to even make it onto the bench under Simon Grayson and left by mutual consent in February 2009, joining Slough (Slough!) two months later.
16. El Hadji-Diouf
January 8, 2011: Neil Warnock labels Diouf a “sewer rat” after the forward taunted QPR’s Jamie Mackie, who was on the floor with a broken leg in an FA Cup tie with Blackburn. “But that might be insulting the sewer rats,” Warnock adds. “I think he’s the lowest of the low.”
September 27, 2012: Neil Warnock labels Diouf a “matador” after the forward helped Leeds beat Everton 2-1 in the League Cup.
May 17, 2014: Leeds release Diouf, who made just seven appearances in all competitions in his second season, after he spent a large chunk of the season in Senegal due to ‘personal problems’.
15. Jack McKay & Paul McKay
Just the two sons of agent Willie McKay. Nothing to see here.
Jack never appeared for the club. Paul did at least get an opportunity as Leeds were knocked out of the FA Cup by non-league Sutton.
14. Billy Whitehouse
See above. Another McKay client taken from Doncaster who appeared in the embarrassment at Sutton.
He has now found his level with Tadcaster Albion while being tenuously linked with moves to Premier League sides.
13 & 12. Mikael Forssell & Mika Vayrynen
Because when you’re trying to kid fans that you’re still serious about challenging for promotion while selling your best players, why not sign two ageing, injury-prone Finnish free agents?
Forssell did at least produced one memorable moment for Leeds when he welcomed Paul Pogba to his senior Manchester United debut by elbowing the midfielder in the face.
11. Malcolm Christie
Once a promising young goalscorer for Derby and Middlesbrough, Christie’s time at the Riverside was blighted by a number of long-term injuries.
Handed a trial at Leeds by Gary McAllister in January 2008, the striker suffered another injury, but he hung around at the club until November, when he was deemed fit enough to be worth a contract.
Two months later, Christie was forced to retire after injuring his spine in training, quitting football to become a Jaguar salesman.
10. Steve Morison
Unhappy with Luciano Becchio’s 19-goal haul in the first half of 2012-13, Neil Warnock jumped at the chance to swap a man in Leeds’ top 10 league goalscorers of all time for Norwich City’s Steve Morison, promising the former Millwall man would “be a legend here in a few years”.
In a deal in which everyone came out a loser, Becchio failed to make an impact at Carrow Road, Morison scored more goals on loan back at Millwall than he did in two years at Leeds and Warnock was sacked two months after the transfer.
Future Leeds legend Morison returned to West Yorkshire with Millwall last season, taunting the home fans during a 4-3 thriller such is the mutual contempt between the two parties.
Nice one, Colin.
9 & 8. Edgar Cani & Granddi N’Goyi
Not content with signing nine players from Italy who struggled to make an impression in the Championship during Massimo Cellino’s first summer as owner, Leeds added another two to their ranks in January (three, if you count Sol Bamba, but he actually had some use).
N’Goyi was signed without undergoing a medical and immediately aggravated an injury, meaning he appeared just once, in a 2-0 defeat to Norwich.
Cani, an Albania striker who has scored double figures in a season just once in his career, was given 29 minutes of first-team football, although he managed to achieve infamy by being a part of the ‘sicknote six’ who pulled out of a trip to Charlton on the eve of the fixture. As if anyone would have noticed his absence anyway.
7. Dario Meadows
Genuinely had no idea Leeds had signed a a 17-year-old, English-born Roma prospect called Dario Meadows on loan in 2016.
Turns out he couldn’t actually play for the club, or even their youth teams, and had to return to Roma. Like all great developments, this was explained by his cousin on Twitter.
You would imagine professional football clubs should know things like this before signing players.
had to go back to Roma. The FA wouldn't let him play before he was 18 👎🏻
— chris meadows (@chrismeadows198) November 14, 2016
6. Yosuke Ideguchi
A midfielder with a burgeoning reputation after starring in World Cup qualification with Japan, Leeds completed the signing of Ideguchi in January, immediately loaning the player to Cultural Leonesa.
Supporters were already sceptical of how a loan spell in Spain’s second tier would help a player acclimatise to life in the Championship, and those fears were hardly calmed by the fact the 21-year-old struggled to break into the starting XI of a team who were battling against relegation.
The result was Ideguchi missed out on Japan’s World Cup squad completely, only to return to Leeds and be told he wasn’t wanted by new boss Marcelo Bielsa.
Not content with ruining a promising young player’s year, and quite possibly career, Leeds sent to German second division outfit Greuther Fürth this season, where he has suffered a serious knee injury and is expected to miss the majority of the campaign.
5. Mansour Assoumani
No, we’re not just making footballers up now, promise.
Leeds signed Assoumani after the defender scored in a trial game against York, which suggests their logic was slightly confused.
Three days after agreeing a deal, the former Montpellier man made his debut in a 3-1 defeat against MK Dons. He didn’t even score the goal.
Gary McAllister was sacked the following day, and Assoumani was never seen again.
It’s impossible to sum up the weirdness of the first summer under Massimo Cellino, so Adryan has instead been included as a one-size-fits-all clusterfuck.
Signed on loan with a view to a permanent deal from Flamengo, despite already being on loan at Cellino’s former club Cagliari, Adryan arrived to plenty of fanfare, owed mainly to the fact he was quite good on FIFA.
The strangest thing of all was that, after taking a while to break into the first team, he actually looked the part for a (very) brief period of time.
But then events turned farcical once more. Verne Troyer rocked up at Elland Road to take in Leeds’ clash with Derby, and as if that wasn’t enough to make the evening go viral, Adryan produced one of the most spectacular dives in history.
He made just six more appearances. There was never much of a chance the move would be made permanent.
3. Habib Habibou
It’s impossible not to love Habibou, the duck-chucking, Twitter-loving lunatic of a striker.
How he ended up on loan at Leeds, it’s hard to say. That he was allowed to go on holiday before the season had even finished summed up his stay.
2. Ouasim Bouy
Signing a former Ajax, Juventus and Hamburg midfielder on a free transfer sounds like a coup for Leeds, but the warning signs were there when he was immediately loaned out to Aspire-owned Cultural Leonesa before the Whites’ link with the Qatar-based academy had been officially announced.
The signing became even less of a coup when it became apparent Bouy – similar to Ideguchi – failed to break into the Spanish second division strugglers’ starting XI.
A season-long loan deal was cut short in January, but he rejected further offers to leave, only to find himself nowhere near Leeds’ first team despite a shitshow of an end to the season in which the squad became decimated by injuries.
This summer he was sent back out on loan to PEC Zwolle, where he has similarly struggled. Another Carlos Kaiser, perhaps?
1. Amadou Haidara
We’re not saying Leeds thought they were signing the Amadou Haidara who impressed for Red Bull Salzburg last season, but they never formally announced this transfer once he arrived in 2016 as it became increasingly apparent he was nowhere near the required standard to even break into the club’s Under-23 side.
This March, the Haidara of Leeds United obscurity was released at the age of 24, still without a senior appearance at any level.
The Yorkshire Evening Post’s Phil Hay has suggested the signing came as part of the package to release Sol Bamba, which makes it less weird, but it only opens the door to a whole new world of weirdness: given the amount of players Leeds have had to pay off since relegation from the Premier League, how many more Amadou Haidaras do we not know about?