Leeds United Heroes of 1999-2000

After suffering relegation from the Premier League in 2004, Leeds United’s current side are really giving the fans something to shout about with the club looking like they have a realistic shot of returning to the promised land come May.

Perched in third position in the Championship, manager Marcelo Bielsa has got Leeds playing with a real purpose and swagger and supporters are rightfully delighted by the exciting brand of football on display.

Leeds are a club steeped in history and although the last decade hasn’t boded too well for them, their current set-up is reminiscent of the side who finished third in the Premier League at the turn of the century.
 
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The 1999-00 season is one that many Leeds fans will saviour. Not only did they secure themselves Champions League football for the following campaign, a brilliant UEFA Cup run demonstrated they were ready to mix it with Europe’s elite sides.

Crop of talent

Not only were Leeds playing an exciting brand of football, they were the envy of most of the Premier League sides with the amount of young talent that were making their mark at Elland Road.

Alan Smith, Jonathan Woodgate, Rio Ferdinand and Michael Bridges are just four examples of those manager David O’leary chose to nurture and develop and the Irishman was not disappointed.

Granted, Ferdinand and Bridges made big-money moves to West Yorkshire but the duo were iconic throughout the 1999-00 campaign, with the former hitting 19 goals in his first season with the club.

Ferdinand, who alongside Woodgate developed a formidable centre-back pairing, provided the backbone for a side who quite simply adopted an exciting, attacking style of play that typically blew teams away.

England goalkeeper Nigel Martyn was entrusted with the gloves as Leeds’ no.1 and with the likes of Ian Harte, Lee Bowyer, Harry Kewell, Darren Huckerby and Smith all offering a goal scoring threat, it’s no wonder that the Whites drew admirers from outside of Yorkshire.

Standout results

Despite kicking-off the season with a 0-0 draw at home to Derby County, Leeds were the fifth highest scorers in the league that season with 58 goals. Although they struggled against their rivals, O’Leary’s side demonstrated what they’re all about when they scored three or more goals on nine occasions that season.

Leeds recorded a league double over Tottenham Hotspur and most notably, took all three points from Stamford Bridge with Stephen McPhail’s brace proving enough.

Local rivals Sheffield Wednesday and Bradford also succumbed to United’s young guns in both games throughout 1999/00 season. The aggregate score being 9-3 to The Whites.

In Europe, the likes of Spartak and Lokomotiv Moscow, Partizan Belgrade and AS Roma were all humbled by Leeds with the Italian giants failing to score in 180 minutes against The Whites.

Premier League return is nigh

The bookmakers are tipping the current Leeds side to make their long, awaited return to the top flight with Betfair pricing Biesla’s side at 2.28 (5/4) on the Exchange.

However, it’s becoming a common trait for Leeds to fall apart towards the end of the campaign which is exactly what happened 15 seasons ago.

For most of the season, Leeds were in the title race before a four-game losing streak ended their title dreams and fans will still be pondering what might have been had that not had happened.

Nonetheless, the great Leeds side of 1999/00 will be fondly remembered by football fans from across the land and with Betfair’s Premier League betting hotting up for these season’s climax.

Who knows, this time next year it could be Biesla’s boys who are mixing it with England’s elite once again.