Ever since Leeds United were promoted back to the second tier in 2010, there has been an air of expectation, even inevitability for them to make to back to the top flight. Marcelo Bielsa’s side sit in the automatic promotion spots, with 20 games gone.
Leeds’ last promotion came courtesy of a 2-1 win over Bristol Rovers at Elland Road, here is where those players are now.
Shane Higgs: Leeds fans have lamented goalkeeping options in recent years. From Paul Rachubka to Felix Wiedwald they have had some questionable stoppers. However it was Higgs who donned the gloves that day. 25 appearances in two years was all he managed. He played three games for Northampton Town after departing, and since retirement in 2012 there’s no mention of him anywhere.
Shane Lowry: A man who has played sparingly in the Championship since. The promotion game was the last of Lowry’s eleven in a white shirt having joined in January on a temporary deal from Aston Villa. He was replaced by Jonny Howson, who scored five minutes later. He now features in his native Australia, turning out for Perth Glory.
Leigh Bromby: Bromby is the only man to have played over 100 games for each of the Sheffield clubs. He joined Watford and latterly Leeds via a loan move back to the red-and-white half of Sheffield. The boyhood United fan fulfilled his dream, featuring in 55 league games for the club he supported. Upon retirement in 2013, Bromby joined the academy setup at Elland Road and as of 2014 is the professional development coach at Premier League side, Huddersfield Town.
Neill Collins: Another loanee of the side. Collins joined Leeds from Preston North End, out-of-favour in Lancashire, Collins played nine games and made his move permanent for United’s first season back in the second tier. He soon left for Sheffield United, now 35, the Scotsman has just been released by USL side Tampa Bay Rowdies, former club of Joe Cole.
Michael Doyle: One-time Republic of Ireland international Doyle joined United at the beginning of the season and stayed throughout. He featured in 42 of the 46 games, he reiterated his desire to stay in Yorkshire but ended up going back to Coventry City. He is now back at the Ricoh Arena, at the ripe old age of 37, via spells at Sheffield United and Portsmouth, he achieved promotion with the Sky Blues last season, and is now back in League One.
Neil Kilkenny: How is he only 32 I hear you say. Kilkenny’s three years at Elland Road remain his best and most prolific. Spells at Preston North End and Bristol City followed before he moved to Australia, the country he has featured 14 times for internationally, he is also reunited with Shane Lowry at Perth Glory.
Bradley Johnson: 31 year-old Johnson has become synonymous with the Championship. His consistency has led him to play 100 times for three clubs already, one being Leeds United. Johnson lasted just one more season at Leeds before going to Carrow Road to feature for Norwich City, he remained there until 2015 before joining Derby County, where he challenges The Whites for promotion to the Premier League.
Andy Hughes: Another for whom it was a farewell game. Manchester-born Hughes made his 116th and final appearance helping Leeds to promotion before joining Scunthorpe United for the season after. Sporadic roles there, and at Charlton as well as Bolton Wanderers, where he even managed a game led Hughes to retirement. He is now a coach at Huddersfield Town.
Max Gradel: 22 goals in 64 games in the league rendered Ivory Coast international Max Gradel a success and a fan favourite during his two-year stint in West Yorkshire. He was actually sent off in what was a moment of madness for a player who tends to be quite level-headed. Whites fans have often called for a return to the club when Gradel has left his subsequent clubs. The latest of which is Toulouse, having left Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth after a torrid time on the south-coast.
Jermaine Beckford: As if you would need reminding about this man. Beckford struck over 80 goals in white and his 2009/10 season will go down in folklore for all Leeds United fans. Beckford was the man who got the winner, but soon after he broke West Yorkshire hearts by joining Everton. Now 34, he is riddled with injury issues at League Two Bury, but the Jamaican international will always be fondly remembered at Elland Road.
Luciano Becchio: Completing one of the great lower-league strike partnerships, Beckford-Becchio struck 40 league goals between them that season. Becchio left Leeds in 2013 to join Norwich, however it never worked out in Norfolk, as he never scored a league goal. He made a brief return to English football with Rotherham United in 2016 but never reached those dizzy heights. He is now the assistant manager of Atletico Baleares, having played for them in 2017.