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Jermaine Beckford opens up on ‘painful’ Leeds United exit, ‘bricking it’ on his debut and falling in love with Elland Road

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Jermaine Beckford has opened up on his ‘painful’ experience of leaving Leeds United and admits the club is still firmly in his heart.

Beckford will forever enjoy cult hero status at Elland Road for his goal against Manchester United at Old Trafford to knock the Red Devils out of the FA Cup in 2010.

A prolific striker with pace to burn, the 36-year-old signed for the Whites in 2006 after smashing in 35 goals in just 40 games for non-league Wealdstone.

Jermaine Beckford admitted leaving Leeds in 2010 was ‘painful’
Getty Images – Getty

Despite making his way through the Chelsea academy, it was Leeds who gave the striker his chance at professional football and it is fair to say he took the opportunity with both hands.

However, nothing will ever top making his debut in front of a raucous Yorkshire home crowd.

“On the Saturday, I was playing in front of maybe 80 people, give or take,” Beckford said on Drive.

“It was Wealdstone against somebody…big game! I remember coming off early because I knew that I had something in the pipeline with Leeds and I didn’t want to run the risk of getting injured or whatever.

Gary McAllister brought the best out of Beckford
Getty Images – Getty

“So I came off early and that was in front of 80-ish people. I signed on Sunday, trained on Monday and then I played on Tuesday in front of 34,500 people against Crystal Palace at Elland Road.”

He added: “I was bricking it! Listen I’ve got a very calm exterior, but I was on the touchline and as soon as my number came up on the board – and Elland Road was full – it just went up another couple of decibels.

“I’ll be honest with you, every single sensation or feeling you could get ran just right through my bod; through my veins and my skin – it was phenomenal.”

Beckford signed a three-year deal with the Whites in 2007 after loan spells at Carlisle and Scunthorpe and began to tear apart League One defences.

Beckford earned a move to Everton after starring for Leeds but spent only one season on Merseyside
Getty Images – Getty

In total, he scored 71 goals in 126 games for the club, but it seemed to end on a somewhat sour note as transfer requests were handed in and Beckford found himself on the transfer list. After getting Leeds back to the Championship, the striker saw his contract cancelled in May 2010.

A free transfer to Everton duly followed and his Premier League dreams were realised, but Beckford admits leaving Elland Road hurt more than perhaps he let on at the time.

“Painful, that’s why I keep trying to get a new contract every time I see the chairman,” Beckford joked.

“From the first week that I signed for Leeds, I said to myself. ‘Wow, this is where I want to end my career.’

Beckford scored the all-important goal to knock Man United out the FA Cup in 2010
Getty Images – Getty

“Because everything about it, in terms of football things, but mainly everything outside of actually playing; the people that are around the place, the girls that are in the canteen, the stewards and literally everybody connected with the club.

“They just made me feel so welcome and helped me to learn and grow as a person as well, so that just meant a lot to me. So I get back quite back a bit to Elland Road, I do a bit of the corporate stuff down there as well.

“I just can’t get enough of the place, I can’t get enough.”



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