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Five of the best players to play for Leeds and Newcastle

Leeds and Newcastle meet in the Premier League this weekend, two one-club cities with passionate fanbases and dreams of challenging the division’s best sides.

The two clubs share similarities and have both previously enjoyed spells bidding to upset England’s established elite, each competing in the Champions League during the late nineties and early 2000s before falling on harder times.

Each now appear to be heading upwards once more, with Leeds returning to the Premier League last season and Newcastle now boasting world football’s richest ownership and the finances to compete at the highest level.

 

Ahead of their meeting at Elland Road, we look at five of the best players to have played for Leeds and Newcastle in the Premier League era.

Gary Speed

The late Gary Speed is a footballer who remains a firm fans’ favourite at both clubs, having enjoyed memorable spells at two of England’s most passionately supported clubs.

Speed came through the youth system at Leeds before establishing himself at Elland Road, making 312 appearances across all competitions and forming part of the side crowned First Division champions in the final pre-Premier League top-flight campaign.

Alongside a talented midfield including Gordon Strachan, Gary McAllister and David Batty he starred during the first seasons of the Premier League, being named in the PFA Team of the Year in 1992/93 despite Leeds’ disappointing campaign.

He signed for Newcastle after a short spell at Everton and reached two FA Cup finals with the Magpies, providing experience and leadership as a talented side secured Champions League qualification under Sir Bobby Robson.

He made 285 appearances for Newcastle and scored 40 goals, before continuing his playing career into his late thirties with spells at Bolton and Sheffield United, retiring from the game as a much-loved figure at each of his previous clubs.

David Batty

Batty had two spells with Leeds and was part of the side – alongside Speed – that won the 1992 First Division title, before departing his boyhood side to join Blackburn.

He won the Premier League during a three-season spell at Ewood Park, later signing for Newcastle as Kevin Keegan looked to reinforce his side’s title challenge with the arrival of the combative midfielder.

Batty failed to earn another league winners’ medal at St James’ Park but became a favourite for his midfield bite and committed approach to the game, making 114 appearances for the Magpies.

He returned to Leeds in a £4.75m deal in 1998 and was a senior figure in a talented side, one which reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup and Champions League in successive seasons under David O’Leary.

His final appearance came in January 2004 after sustaining an injury against former side Newcastle, retiring at the end of the season after Leeds’ relegation and a total of 373 appearances across two spell at Elland Road.

Jonathan Woodgate

Part of a talented group of players who emerged from the Leeds academy during the late nineties, Woodgate – alongside the likes of Ian Harte, Alan Smith and Harry Kewell – formed part of an emerging spine during the David O’Leary era.

Woodgate was a cultured centre-back and regarded as arguably the most talented of Leeds’ home-grown prospects, but injury problems prevented the defender from reaching his full potential as he competed with the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Lucas Radebe and Dominic Matteo for a place in the side.

He made 142 appearances for the club in all competitions before being sold to Newcastle, as Leeds sanctioned a £9m deal in the wake of their financial problems.

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Woodgate again struggled for fitness with the Magpies but when fit established himself as one of the best central defenders in the Premier League, earning a £13.4m move to join Real Madrid in the midst of their Galactico era.

His time in Spain was again hindered with injury problems after an infamous debut in which he scored an own goal and was sent off, before later having spells with Middlesbrough, Tottenham and Stoke. He won the League Cup with Spurs, scoring the final winner against Chelsea in 2008.

Mark Viduka

Mark Viduka’s goalscoring record at Celtic persuaded Leeds to spend £6m on the Australian in 2000, with the forward fast becoming a fans’ favourite at Elland Road.

Viduka formed impressive partnerships with the likes of Harry Kewell and Alan Smith, scoring 22 goals in all competitions during his debut season – including all four goals in a thrilling 4-3 win over Liverpool.

Far from boasting the proverbial ‘good touch for a big man’, he had a first touch to match any forward and a burly frame which gave even the best Premier League defenders an uneasy afternoon.

Viduka spent four seasons with Leeds and scored 72 goals in 166 appearances for the club, remaining with the side despite the fire-sale of talent in a desperate bid to save their Premier League status.

He eventually departed following Leeds’ relegation in 2003/04, enjoying an impressive three-season spell at Middlesbrough before finishing his career at Newcastle.

He scored seven goals in all competitions during his debut campaign at St James’ Park, forming part of an uber-attacking front three alongside Michael Owen and Obafembi Martins.

James Milner

James Milner burst onto the scene as a fresh-faced 16-year-old at Leeds, becoming the Premier League’s youngest ever goalscorer when netting in a win against Sunderland on Boxing Day 2002.

The midfielder – wearing a shirt he probably still wouldn’t fit into now – was thrust into the limelight as Leeds’ financial issues began to worsen, later having a loan spell at Swindon before returning to feature regularly as the club were relegated from the Premier League in 2003/04.

In need of cash, he was sold to Newcastle in a £5m deal and spent four seasons with the Magpies, making 136 appearances across all competitions.

Having enjoyed a loan spell with Aston Villa during his time at St James’ Park, he joined Villa on a permanent basis and saw his career accelerate after leaving Newcastle.

He was named as the PFA Young Player of the Year in 2009/10, later amassing a wealth of major honours – including three Premier League titles and the Champions League – during spells at Manchester City and Liverpool.

Milner remains a part of the first-team picture at Anfield, with the 36-year-old currently fourth in the all-time rankings for Premier League appearances.

Read – Seven outrageously good Premier League free-kicks

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