Europe’s Forgotten Clubs:Leeds United

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The area of West Yorkshire was once upon a time known for the industries of textile and coal which were the main industries of the area.When it came to football the area much less successful,but there is the biggest city in West Yorkshire,Leeds and its football club Leeds United.The story of Leeds United begins in 1904 with the formation of Leeds City however in 1919 due to illegal payments to players Leeds City was forced to disband and new team took place which was Leeds United.It took five years that Leeds United reaches the First Division which in that time represented the highest division of English Football,but in 1927 the club was relegated back to the Second Division and immediately bounced back to the First Division and in the 1929-30 season finished 5th which was their best result until the arrival of Don Revie in 1961.For the next three decades Leeds was inconsistent bouncing between the First and Second Division until 1961 when Don Revie became manager.In that time Leeds was on the verge of a financial disaster and nearly avoided relegation to the Third Division.In the next season Revie implemented radical changes to the club included changing the kit into all-white into the style of Real Madrid and the modeling of the club’s youth academy and hiring experineced coaches like Syd Owen,Les Cocker and Maurice Lindley who created a family atmosphere in the club and prepared high fitness levels and military style training programs.Also Revie’s staff prepared highly detailed dossiers on opposing teams before every single match and pioneered a highly detailed approach to the way opposing teams could be analysed.In order that Leeds United could challenge for promotion to the First Division,Revie brought a completely new team full young talents like Billy Bremner,Norman Hunter,Albert Johanneson,Eddie Gray and others which were led by a more experienced Jack Charlton. That payed off in the 1963-64 season when Leeds was promoted back to the First Division and in the beginning of the next season Leeds United made a shocking victory against Liverpool which were the reigning champions.Leeds finished in their first season in the First Division as 2nd losing the title to Manchester United which was led by Matt Busby by goal difference.That was enough for their first ever run in European competitions,the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (predecessor of the UEFA Cup which is currently known as the UEFA Europa League),Leeds beat Torino,Leipzig,Valencia and Ujpest in order to reach the semifinal of the tournament where they faced Real Zaragoza where they lost.In the 1966-67 season Leeds finished 4th in the First Division,however in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup they DWS (Netherlands),Valencia,Bologna and in the semifinals the Scots from Kilmarnock in order to reacher the finals where as the opponent was Dinamo Zagreb.Leeds lost the 1st leg in Zagreb 2-0 with goals by Marijan Cercek and Krasnodar Rora and made a draw in the 2nd leg back at Elland Road and Dinamo Zagreb won the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.In the 1967-68 season Leeds United again finished 4th in the First Division but it won the League Cup against Arsenal thanks to a goal by Terry Cooper and in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup they defeart Spora Luxembourg,Partizan Belgrade and a trio of Scottish clubs (Hibernian,Rangers and Dundee) in order to reach the final where thanks to a single goal by Mick Jones at Elland Road and a draw were enough to win the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup against Ferencvaros.

Finally in the 1968-69 season Leeds won the First Division title by losing only two games in the whole season and set numerous records(most wins-27,most home wins-18,most points-67,most home points-39),but it resulted in poor cup runs and Leeds exited the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in the quarterfinals when they lost both matches to Ujpest.However Leeds made a debut in the following season in the European Champions Cup where they reached the semifinals but they were beaten by Celtic which went to its 2nd European Champions Cup finals where they were beaten by Feyenoord.However on the domestic front the situation wasn’t so good and Leeds only won the Charity Shield.In the next 1970-71 season Leeds returned to the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup where they beat Sarpsborg from Norway,Dynamo Dresden,Sparta Prague,Vitoria Setubal and in the semifinals Liverpool before facing in the final Juventus where they made two draws (1-1 and 2-2) which was enough that Leeds wins the 13th and last edition of the Inter-Cities Fair Cup before it was replaced by the UEFA Cup the following season.

In the 1st edition of the UEFA Cup in the 1971-72 season Leeds crashed immediately in the 1st round where they were defeated by the Belgians from Lierse and on the domestic front they managed to win the FA Cup against Arsenal with a single goal by Allan Clarke.In the next 1972-73 season Leeds competed in the European Cup Winners Cup where they defeated Ankaragucu,Carl Zeiss Jena,Rapid Bucharest and Hajduk Split in order to reach the final against AC Milan which Leeds went with a weaker squad and controversial decisions made by referee Christos Michas which favored the Italians.Leeds lost the game by a single goal scored by Luciano Chiarugi,but it were the decisions by Michas who buried Leeds and caused chaotic scenes after the match.In the aftermath Michas was banned from refeering for life.The 1973-74 season was the last season in which Don Revie led Leeds United as a manager before he would become the manager of the English national team.In that season Leeds won the First Division title going 29 matches unbeaten,meanwhile it made an exit in the 3rd round of the UEFA Cup when Leeds was defeated by Vitoria Setubal.In 13 years under Don Revie,Leeds United won 2 First Division titles,two FA Cups,one League Cup,one Second Division title,one Charity Shield and most notably two Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.This was the most glorious period of Leeds United which was led by players like Jack Charlton and Billy Bremner.After the depature of Don Revie ont he bench of Leeds came Brian Clough who was a fierce critic of Don Revie and his period in Leeds lasted for only 44 days.Later Clough would achieve success with Nottingham Forest.After Clough’s disastrous period,on the bench came Jimmy Armfield which revived Revie’s team and made one final push in Europe when as First Division champions Leeds competed in the 1974-75 edition of the European Champions Cup where they defeated Zurich,Ujpest,Anderlecht and FC Barcelona before facing Bayern Munich which in its squad had Beckenbauer,Rummenigge,Hoeness and Gerd Muller.Leeds was defeated in the final in Paris 2-0.That was the last of Leeds United,besides it entered the 1979-80 edition of the UEFA Cup where they were defeated in the 2nd round by Romanian minnows Universitatea Craiova.This was the last of Leeds United in Europe since the club suffered a serious decline from the days of Don Revie and in 1988 was almost relegated from the Second Division until the appointment of Howard Wilkinson who brought the club back in the First Division in the 1989-90 season.Under Wilkinson Leeds experienced a brief revival for the start brought in the team GaryMcAllister, Gordon Strachan,Vinne Jones,Mel Sterland,Gary Speed and David Batty,with that squad Leeds returned to the First Division and achieved a 4th place in the 1990-91 season.Wilkinson signed Eric Cantona and Leeds went to win the First Division title in the 1991-92 season just before the highest level of English football was rebranded as the Premier League.Also in the next 1992-93 season for the first time in 12 seasons Leeds went to play in Europe when in the UEFA Champions League they faced and defeated Stuttgart but crashed in the next round when they were defeated by Glasgow Rangers which went into the group stage of the tournament.The same season saw a disastrous performance by the team which finished 17th.It wasn’t until the 1995-96 season that Leeds would return to European competitions when they competed in the UEFA Cup but again they made an early exit in the 2nd round when they were defeated by PSV Eindhoven and in the Premier League were 13th at the end of the season.Due to poor results Wilkinson was fired and George Graham was brought with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink,Bruno Ribeiro,Lee Bowyer and Harry Kewell as additions to the team.Leeds finished 5th in the 1997-98 season and entered the UEFA Cup again but again it made an exit in the 2nd round when they were defeated by Roma.With Graham’s exit from the club,as the new manager came David O’Leary who brought to the team Ian Harte,Mark Viduka and Johnthan Woodgate.In the 1999-2000 season Leeds reached their first European semifinal in 25 years when they faced Galatasaray in the semifinal of the UEFA Cup which they lost,however in the next season they made a spectacular run in the UEFA Champions League when they reached the semifinals where they went against the future runner-up Valencia.The O’Leary era finished in 2002 where he guided the team to four consecutive top five finishes and two European semifinals.The last time LEeds appeared in Europe in the 2002-03 season when it reached the 3rd round of the UEFA Cup when they were defeated by Malaga and that was it.In the following years Leeds suffered a financial disaster which was a result of bad loans,relegation from the Premier League and even a relegation to League One (3rd tier) before it returned to the Championship League in the 2009-10 season where they still play and they hope that in the near future that they will return to the Premier League.

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