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The Leeds United Sold Academy XI

The Leeds United Sold Academy XI

Lewis Cook recently left Leeds United to sign for Bournemouth in a deal that is believed to be worth up to £10m for the Whites. The 19-year-old midfielder became the latest in a long line of academy graduates to move on for pastures new.

With that in mind, it seemed like a good time to come up with a starting XI of players who came through the ranks at Thorph Arch only to then be sold on; sometimes against their will, often due to poor management, and usually for an unbefitting value.

Paul Robinson Paul Robinson Yorkshire-born goalkeeper who progressed through the youth ranks and was part of the side that won the F.A. Youth Cup against Crystal Palace in 1997. Kept a clean sheet on his first team debut against Chelsea and also played in the 1-1 draw against Barcelona in the Champions League. Managed to displace legendary goalkeeper Nigel Martyn as number one in 2002 and spent the following two seasons in that position, even scoring a dramatic header in injury time against Swindon Town. Moved to Tottenham Hotspur following relegation from the Premier League for just £1.5m and went on to become England’s number one goalkeeper. Earned 41 England caps, moved to Blackburn Rovers for £3.5m in 2008 and ended last season with Burnley.

Another goalkeeper who could also be included is Scott Carson, who moved to Liverpool for just £750k and was also capped by England.

Sam Byram Sam Byram An incredibly talented full-back who joined the club at the age of 12, Byram only got his chance during the pre-season campaign of 2012/13 due to United’s inability to sign a right-back. United went on to sign Lee Peltier who was then made captain by Neil Warnock, only for Byram to keep Peltier out of the side. Almost an ever-present during that first season, Byram signed two contract extensions and won the Player of the Year Award, Young Player of the Year Award, Players Player of the Year Award and also the Supporters Club Player of the Year Award. Had an injury-hit second season before starring in the second half of the 2014/15 season under former academy head Neil Redfearn. Incredibly was offered a contract on a reduced wage by Massimo Cellino with just a year remaining on his deal, before being offered a one-year deal which was also turned down. Sold to West Ham United in January 2016 for around £3.7m after making 143 appearances for the Whites. Starred on his debut against Manchester City and has been linked with a move to Arsenal this summer.

Matthew Kilgallon Matt Kilgallon York-born centre-back who made his debut during the season that saw Leeds relegated from the Premiership, also forcing his way into the England Under-21 set-up. Was a key figure for United in the Championship, and a mainstay in the side that reached the play-off final in 2006, losing 3-0 to Watford at the Millennium Stadium. Continued to be a key player during the first half of the disastrous 2006/07 season before being sold to Yorkshire rivals Sheffield United for just £1.75 million as Leeds headed for financial implosion. Went on to make 107 appearances for the Blades and played for Sunderland, Middlesborough, Doncaster Rovers and ended last season with Blackburn Rovers.

Jonathan Woodgate Jonathan Woodgate Defender who never quite reached his potential and another member of the 1997 F.A. Youth Cup winning side. Joined the club at the age of 16 and went on to make 104 appearances for the club. A key player for the club in their rise to the Champions League semi-finals, competing with the likes of Lucas Radebe, Rio Ferdinand and Dominic Matteo. Involved in a controversial court case along with fellow Leeds player Lee Bowyer over an assault in Leeds. Sold in acrimonious circumstances to Newcastle United for £9m as Leeds’ financial problems first started to become public knowledge. Described as the club’s 'jewel in the crown' and his sale caused uproar amongst supporters, along with the departure of manager Terry Venables. Moved to Real Madrid for £13.4m where he had a torrid time, firstly due to injuries resulting in the defender failing to make a single appearance in his first season and then a nightmare debut involving an own goal and a red card. Went on to play for Middlesbrough, Tottenham Hotspur and Stoke City. Left Middlebrough following their promotion to the Premier League in 2016.

Danny Rose Danny Rose Doncaster-born left-sided player who failed to make a single appearance for the club before moving to Tottenham Hotspur at the age of 17 for around £1m in 2007. His only inclusion in the United first-team was being named on the bench for the League Cup tie against Barnet. Leeds were relegated at the end of the season and were put into administration, with Rose among others being sold to desperately raise some funds. Loans spells at Watford, Peterborough United, Bristol City and Sunderland followed, before Rose finally broke into the first team at Spurs in the left back position, having left Elland Road as a winger. Travelled to Euro 2016 as England’s first-choice left-back.

Aaron Lennon Aaron Lennon Speedy winger who was born in Leeds and made his first-team debut at the age of just 16 against Tottenham Hotspur, becoming the youngest ever Premier League player at the time. Went on to make 38 appearances for the club following relegation from the Premier League, with his only goal coming in the 3-2 win over Sunderland in 2004. Sold at the end of that season for a mere £1m to Tottenham. Made 266 appearances for the North London club along with earning 21 England caps before moving to Everton in 2015.

Fabian Delph Fabian Delph An immensely talented midfielder, Bradford-born Delph joined the club at the mere age of 11. After captaining the reserve team, Delph made his debut in the final game of the 2006/07 season as a substitute, with Leeds losing 2-0 to Derby County and being relegated from the Championship. Made two appearances in 2007/08 before really coming to prominence the following year, making 42 appearances and scoring six goals, including a superb solo effort against Brighton & Hove Albion where he ran the length of the field before slotting home with his left-foot. After Leeds failed to gain promotion from League One, Delph was sold to Aston Villa for £7m. Initially struggled at Villa and suffered a serious injury which kept him out for eight months. Returned to Leeds on loan in 2012 and again impressed before picking up an injury which kept him out for the season. Went on to become a regular in the Villa side as well as captain, before moving to Manchester City in 2015 for around £8m. Has also won 9 England caps and missed out on Euro 2016 with a groin injury.

James Milner James Milner Another Leeds-born academy graduate who also supported the club, Milner joined the Leeds United academy at the age of 10 years old and went on to make his debut against West Ham United in 2002. Broke the record for the Premier League’s youngest goalscorer when he scored in a 2-1 win over Sunderland. Also scored a memorable goal against Chelsea and turned down a move to Tottenham Hotspur following United’s relegation from the Championship. Stayed with the club in the Championship and the club were insistent that he would not be sold, only for the club’s financial difficulties to increase and result in the midfielder being sold against his will to Newcastle United for £3.6m. Milner said he was not happy to be leaving the club he supported as a child, but did so in the club’s best interest. Moved to Aston Villa on loan before making a £12m move to the Midlands club, spending two years at Villa Park before moving to Manchester City for around £26m. Won the F.A. Cup, League Cup, Community Shield and two Premier League titles with City before moving to Liverpool on a free transfer in 2015. Has also won 61 caps for England.

Jonny Howson Jonny Howson On a personal note, this was the one that hurt the most. Born and raised in Leeds, a Leeds United supporter and academy graduate who went on to captain the side, Howson was a hero to many Leeds supporters. Made a few appearances in the disastrous relegation season from the Championship before enjoying a breakthrough season the following year, scoring a memorable double over Carlisle United in the play-off semi-final second leg and winning the Young Player of the Year award. Helped the club win promotion back to the Championship, making 45 appearances and scoring the equaliser in the dramatic final day victory over Bristol Rovers that secured promotion. Awarded the captaincy the following season and shone in an attacking Leeds side, scoring a superb hat-trick against Scunthorpe United and a brilliant winner against Burnley after Leeds had come back from 2-0 down. Was sold with 6 months left on his contract having been offered the exact same wage as his previous deal, leaving to join Premier League side Norwich City for a mere £2m, a move which caused protests amongst Leeds supporters and the sacking of Simon Grayson who spoke out about the lack of investment in the squad. Has since become a key player for City, making 136 appearances for the Canaries and scored on his return to Elland Road, before showing his class by refusing to celebrate.

Lewis Cook Lewis Cook Extremely talented England Under-19s midfielder who left Leeds United for Premier League football in 2016. The York-born midfielder featured for United’s under-18s at the age of just 15 and was a notable standout alongside Alex Mowatt in the F.A. Youth Cup tie with Liverpool at Anfield in 2013. Made his debut off the bench in United’s opening-day defeat by Millwall in 2014 and went on to become a key player in the side towards the end of the season, as Neil Redfearn put his faith in young players such as Charlie Taylor, Sam Byram, Mowatt and Cook to steer Leeds to safety following a disastrous first half of the season. Won the Football League Championship Apprentice of the Year Award at the end of that season and United’s Young Player of the Year award before signing a new contract which was expected to keep him at the club until the summer of 2017. Scored his first ever goal for the club in a defeat to Doncaster Rovers and was also sent off that day. United rejected a number of bids for Cook during the January transfer window, before the midfielder scored a stunning 35-yard effort against Fulham and went on to win the Football League Young Player of the Year Award and United’s Young Player of the Year award again. Owner Massimo Cellino claimed to be in talks about extending Cook’s deal, only for the midfielder to sign for Premier League side Bournemouth on a four-year deal, joining another former Leeds favourite in Max Gradel at the Cherries.

Alan Smith Alan Smith A player who still divides opinion amongst supporters to this day as to whether the player should be forgiven or not for the move he made when leaving Elland Road for bitter rivals Manchester United. Born in Rothwell, Leeds, and a United supporter since birth, Smith went on to become a hero for many supporters during United’s successful campaigns both at home and in Europe. The striker scored on his first-team debut for the club against Liverpool at the age of just 18 with one of his first touches of the ball, and went on to become one of the first names on the team sheet. Smith made 172 appearances for the club and scored 38 goals, one of the most iconic of those coming on a fine European night for the club as they beat Lazio 1-0 in Rome. He became the first player in United’s history to win the Supporter's Player of the Year Award two years running, in 2003 and 2004 before making a controversial move to Manchester United for £7m. With Leeds having been relegated and on the verge of going into administration, Smith was one of the most valuable assets at the club, and Peter Lorimer has since claimed that Manchester United were the only side that the board would allow Smith to move to, due to the fact that they were the only side who were willing to pay the much-needed funds right away as opposed to in instalments. Still a player who divides opinion amongst Leeds fans, Smith went on to become a midfielder under Sir Alex Ferguson, only to break his leg and disclocate his ankle against Liverpool which resulted in a nine month absence. Smith moved to Newcastle United in 2007 for around £6m and went on to make 84 appearances for the Magpies before moving to MK Dons. He is currently player-coach at Notts County, and was capped 19 times by England.