Gordon Strachan: My ultimate all-time Leeds United XI


Goalkeeper: Nigel Martyn

A bit unfortunate for John Lukic, who was so good for so long, but I have to give it to Nigel, who was key for Leeds on their great run through Europe in 2001, reaching the Champions League semi-final.

Right-back: Paul Madeley

He could play everywhere on the pitch. Everyone can name the famous Leeds team – Sprake, Reaney, Charlton, Hunter, Cooper, Bremner, Giles, Lorimer, Gray, Clarke, and Jones. But they only actually played together once, against Mansfield in the FA Cup. And that’s because Madeley popped up everywhere. One of the most versatile players ever.


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Centre back: Rio Ferdinand

He was a real statement signing. Rio could’ve gone anywhere, but he chose Leeds. He’d been playing in midfield as well as defence at West Ham, but he was signed to be Leeds’ centre back, and he was class. Him and Jonathan Woodgate together were magnificent.

Centre back: Norman Hunter

It’d be unfair not to put him in here, what a player the late Norman was. He could tackle and fight and do the rough stuff, but Norman could also play.

Left-back: Terry Cooper

A lovely lad, I actually worked with him at Southampton, when he did some scouting for me. He was one of the first and best raiding full-backs, as he used to float around the pitch. Really ahead of his time.

If you ever wanted to scare Coops, though, you just had to whisper the words ‘Jimmy Johnstone’ to him.


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Defensive midfield: David Batty

It’s hard to describe him, because I’m not sure if he liked football or not. Seriously. But, wherever he is now – because he’s disappeared off the scene – he could be the richest footballer in the world because he only ever wore one tracksuit and drove the same crappy car throughout his career.

There was nothing flashy about him. As a player, people talk about ball-winners, that was Batty – he could stop moves and then start a new one at the same time, and unbelievably brave. I’ll always remember him disappearing for 15 minutes to go to the toilet during a game against Wolves. He was quite indignant when I asked where he’d been – we didn’t know!

More of Gordon’s ultimate teams…

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Centre midfield: Billy Bremner

Billy just had this incredible will to win. He influenced the team, scored some really important goals, and drove everything. He was a bit of an icon for us young guys in those days, especially because he looked like everyone else in Scotland.

Centre midfield: Gary McAllister

The man could do anything with a football. Anything. And, if anything, he got better as he got older – fitter and better.

Right-wing: Gary Speed

If I picked a team without Gary Speed, my wife wouldn’t speak to me – she loved Gary. He looked like James Bond but was just the most lovely kid. He also laughed at everything I said, so I loved him.

But the serious fact is he’s a player I still use now as an example to kids trying to make it in football. I’ve never seen someone working so hard to become a top pro from the age of 17 onwards. In front of my eyes, I watched him become a wonderful Premier League player.

I used to take great pride in seeing him play, and was so happy he played on into his late 30s, as we used to talk about that a lot when he was a kid, how you can get fitter and stronger as you age.


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Left-wing: Eddie Gray

For any youngsters out there who don’t know Eddie, go on to YouTube and put in ‘Eddie Gray vs Burnley’. He scored two goals for Leeds that day that might be first and second in goal of the season. Absolutely magnificent. A humble man with great ability and, even when you meet him today, you think “class, I like you”.

Centre forward: John Charles

I was fortunate to spend a lot of time with John when I was at Leeds. He has such an incredible legacy at both Leeds and Juventus – where he is a big, big idol – but he never mentioned it. I didn’t even realise until he went back there.

I’ve got a picture of myself, my son, and John in my house, and it’s a really fantastic memory – one of my favourite photographs.


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