Opinion: The 10 most famous players in Leeds United history

In the early years of the Premier League, in particular, Leeds United were responsible for some of the most iconic moments; strikes, victories, and defeats. Meanwhile, before the beginning of the new era of English football, it was the Yorkshire club on top with incredible success. In fact, one year before the Premier League kicked off, they sat on the English football throne, having won the league title.

Now back in the Premier League for what will be a third season come August, Leeds will be hoping to enjoy more moments to remember, whilst seeing certain players rise to fame in the process.

With that said, we’ve ranked the most famous players in Leeds United’s history.

There are plenty of players in separate positions; you’re going to see Leeds’ most famous forwards, Leeds’ most famous midfielders, and even Leeds’ most famous defenders.

10) Ian Harte 

When you hear the name Ian Harte, your mind can’t help but instantly picture his incredible free-kick in the 2001 Champions League quarter-final against Deportivo La Coruna.

The full-back was a crucial part of the side that reached the Champions League last four that season. 

In addition, he was a key player in the last real golden years of both the Leeds side and the Republic of Ireland national team.

A sorely underrated left-back.

9) Lee Bowyer 

It could be argued that Lee Bowyer’s fame has increased since he swapped the pitch for the technical area.

As a player, he impressed many, especially when at Leeds.

Indeed, he played in the semi-finals of both the UEFA Cup and the Champions League with the Whites.

Meanwhile, as a manager, he has taken charge of Charlton Athletic, and, most recently, Birmingham, where he left in July of this year.

8) Mark Viduka 

When we think of underrated strikers, we think of Mark Viduka.

The Australian was a goal scoring machine at Leeds United, even netting four in one game against Liverpool at one stage. In total, he scored 71 goals in 164 appearances for the Yorkshire club. 

Viduka was a deadly finisher and also had the ability to score goals from distance, with a truly deadly strike on him.

An Australia legend, too, Viduka may go down as one of the most famous cult heroes of the Premier League era.

7) Gordon Strachan 

Like Bowyer, Gordon Strachan’s fame has arguably increased after his playing days.

When on the pitch, Strachan won a league title at Elland Road to match his Player of the Year award.

Meanwhile, as a manager, Strachan has taken charge of Scotland, Celtic, Middlesbrough, and Southampton, most of which with great success. 

However, he may well still get the warmest reception at Elland Road.

6) Gary McAllister 

Most may know Gary McAllister for his time at Liverpool, but the midfielder actually made far more appearances for Leeds United, where he remains one of the best players to ever play for the club.

During his time at Elland Road, McAllister won one league title, which came in 1992.

He is perhaps better known for his time at Liverpool, but he is one of the greatest players to ever pull on the white shirt.

He even went on to manage the club briefly in 2008.

5) Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink

More famous for his time at Chelsea, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink may have only spent one season at Leeds United, but he remains one of the most famous players to feature for the Yorkshire club.

The Dutchman ranks 15th in the Premier League’s all-time top goal scorers list, with 127 goals to his name. 

Hasselbaink may well be best known for his time at Chelsea but he was smashing balls into the back of the net at Leeds long before rocking up at Stamford Bridge.

He is one of the very best strikers in Premier League history.

4) James Milner 

Still going to this day, James Milner will go down as one of the most iconic Premier League players of all time when he eventually retires.

And he’ll do so having been born and bred at Elland Road. Since his Leeds United days, Milner has won it all in club football, from Premier League titles to Champions League trophies. 

Milner went from strength to strength, winning multiple England caps, and playing for both Manchester City and Liverpool.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if he ended up as a truly terrific manager too.

3) Robbie Fowler 

One of the best goal scorers that the Premier League has ever seen, Robbie Fowler is another player on this list who played for both Leeds United and Liverpool.

At Anfield, he is known as God, which, as you can guess, correlates with his incredible legacy at the club.

Meanwhile, at Leeds, he didn’t exactly have the worst of times, scoring 14 goals in 32 games.

He also bagged the club a decent fee when he left, at a time when the club really needed the money.

2) Rio Ferdinand

Ferdinand was also able to nail down a spot in the England squad, representing his country at multiple European Championships and World Cups.

He was a truly elite centre-back from the moment he made his debut at West Ham, such was his range of passing and breadth of defensive skill.

He may have left, but Ferdinand remains one of Leeds’ best ever players.

1) Eric Cantona 

Like Ferdinand, Eric Cantona played for both Leeds United and Manchester United during his career, making the move from Elland Road to Old Trafford. He remains one of the best players to ever play for both clubs. 

Of course, one could make the argument that he is one of the biggest mistakes in Leeds history.

They sold him for just over £1m and he went on to inspire United to an era of unprecedented glory.

Still, what a player.

So, there you have it, our list of the most famous players to ever play for Leeds United. Were there any surprises? Did we leave anyone out? Let us know!

Those at Elland Road will be well aware that success forms a correlation with fame. 

It remains to be seen how many current Leeds players will be added to this list come the end of the season. 


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