The postponement of EFL fixtures has left a lot of us craving a football fix in whatever way, which has led to us looking to put together the best Leeds United XI since the Millennium – with the help of the club’s supporters.
Leeds started the Millennium flying high in the Premier League under David O’Leary, but the following 20 years have been something of a rollercoaster.
Financial troubles plummeted the Whites into League One, before they began their rise under Simon Grayson.
Back in the Championship since 2010, Leeds are now just nine games away from the Premier League under Marcelo Bielsa.
The EFL postponement has halted that promotion push for now and has also led to us asking fans who makes the best Leeds United XI since the Millennium.
Nigel Martyn looks set to be the goalkeeper named in our side with over 90% of the vote, but who features at right-back?
We detail the options…
Gary Kelly (2000-2007)
Kelly had been with Leeds since 1992 and finished his career a one-club man.
He started the Millennium as part of O’Leary’s squad, but was competing with Danny Mills for the right-back berth.
He still managed 38 appearances in 2000/01 as Leeds reached the Champions League semi-finals, although Mills was O’Leary’s preferred choice at right-back as the business end of the competition came around.
Kelly remained a regular the following season and then went on to represent Ireland at the 2002 World Cup.
As Leeds slumped into the Championship in 2004, Kelly stayed with the club until 2007, when he retired from the professional game.
He might not have been as involved as he’d have liked in the Champions League, but his commitment to Leeds can’t be disputed – Kelly left with over 530 appearances under his belt.
Danny Mills (2000-2004)
Mills, having signed from Charlton in 1999, become O’Leary’s preferred choice in the right of defence in the early 2000s.
The England right-back was known as a tough tackler, but he also liked to get forward with real aggression.
Mills helped Leeds to the Champions League semi-finals in 2001 and then made a whopping 50 appearances the following season – including internationals as he represented England at the 2002 World Cup.
After helping Leeds avoid relegation at the end of 2002/03, Mills moved out on loan to Middlesbrough before joining Manchester City in 2004 as Leeds’ slide began.
Who gets your vote?
The best Leeds United XI since the Millennium - Right-backs
Sam Byram (2012-2016)
Byram came through Leeds’ academy and burst onto the scene in 2012 under Neil Warnock.
The right-back made 53 appearances in 2012/13 for Leeds and was a shining light in a miserable year for the club. Byram would continue as a regular in the Leeds side and moved to the right of midfield later in his Whites career.
After 130 Championship appearances and nine goals, mismanagement from the top led to Byram’s exit in 2016.
West Ham was his destination, but he failed to rediscover his best form and was shipped out to Nottingham Forest on loan. Now, he’s on the books at Norwich City.
Byram’s career hasn’t gone quite how many expected it to, but there’s no denying he was an impressive right-back option during his early days at Elland Road.
Luke Ayling (2016-present)
Ayling arrived at Elland Road in 2016 from Bristol City and became an instant hit under Garry Monk.
He’s played under Monk, Thomas Christiansen, Paul Heckingbottom and Marcelo Bielsa during his time in West Yorkshire and has been ultra-consistent.
The 28-year-old is on 145 appearances for the Whites, with 134 coming in the Championship. Interestingly, he’s only made one substitute appearance in the league, underlining just how much of a regular he’s been.
Ayling has recently added goals to his game and has three in his last five Championship appearances, with the right-back’s form keeping the Whites on track for promotion.
If he can get them over the line, his impact will never be forgotten around these parts.
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