Becch to basics: The simple cult hero

27 Jan 2016 04:35pm, by YorkshireSquare

We have seen a few articles online of late paying tribute to that clubs cult hero. North London is red, the arsenal fan site put together this great tribute to Gilberto Silva which was in turn inspired by a betway blog post on the greatest heroes of the FA Cup third round. Leeds certainly have a few FA Cup third round heroes, a whole team of them in fact but who was the last great cult hero to pull on the famous white shirt?

Listen carefully and the chants 'Lucianooo' can still be heard ringing around Elland Road on matchdays.

Literally translating to 'light', mentions of his name brighten up the dullest of days in the stadium, as if he were still pulling on the white jersey.

A striker who idolised compatriot and Argentine goal-machine Gabriel Batistuta as a youngster, Becchio, raised in the country's second city Cordoba, made a 425-mile move to Buenos Aires' first football club, Boca Juniors, in 2000 as a 16-year-old, joining their academy.

There he linked up with the younger Carlos Tevez and the two players forged the foundations for two very different footballing careers.

Finding his chances at Boca limited, Real Mallorca offered Becchio island paradise in the Mediterranean, where esteemed compatriot coach Hector Cuper placed the striker in the B team.

Becchio was subsequently loaned out to Murcia the for the following season, before a permanent switch to Catalonian side Terrassa. Perhaps the turning point in his career came after he earned a short move to Barcelona.

Although he wouldn't challenge for the first-team, the time he spent training with the likes of Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto'o et al, clearly made a difference.

Explaining his decision, a couple of years later, Becchio said: “I got the chance to move to Barcelona so, of course, I took it, but I didn’t get a lot of chances to play there. I didn’t feel they really looked after me or gave me a chance. Sometimes you just have to move on if things are not happening for you.”

This move, though, arguably kickstarted his career and fully prepared Becchio for his move to Segunda side Merida. He would go onto net 22 goals for the club, topping the league's scorer charts and ensuring his team qualified for the play-offs, where they lost to Ponferradina over two legs.

However, his scoring exploits had achieved the desired effect. A scout's dream, he swiftly caught the attention of numerous clubs across Europe.

It was sleeping giants Leeds United who came-a-calling. Like Becchio had throughout his career, the club were biding their time for a climb back to the big time.

Although in League One then, the Whites still had appeal and, over the following two seasons, Becchio became a true Yorkshire rose as Leeds pollinated, earning automatic promotion to the Championship.

A high point during that campaign as mentioned in the opening paragraph, included a 1-0 win at Old Trafford over Manchester United in the FA Cup third round, while he also established one of the most potent partnerships in English football, linking up with Jermaine Beckford, scoring 17 goals across all competitions.

Under manager Simon Grayson, Becchio earned the nickname of biblical figure 'Lazarus' for his ability to instantly recover from injuries and his presence in the side was often a source of hope to teammates, inspired by his gift of breathing life into the squad.

It was while he was at Leeds, where he undoubtedly experienced the zenith of his career, scoring 86 goals in 221 appearances.

His willingness to work relentlessly for the good of the team earned him a glowing reputation among the fans, with many comparing the Argentine to former fan favourite Alan Smith for his industry.

A keen tennis player as a child, it would ultimately be on the football pitch where he was scoring volleys.

Never the same upon leaving Leeds in January 2013, Becchio often expressed a desire to return to the club after failing to settle at Norwich City in the Premier League, despite linking up with former Whites teammates Jonny Howson, Bradley Johnson and Robert Snodgrass.

His family ran a restaurant business in Argentina, which they sold after moving to Spain, offering support to their son. While Spain turned out to be a varied experience, at Leeds Becchio showed that he was a key ingredient in their team.

Currently at rivals Rotherham United, Becchio took to Twitter to express his gratitude to fans for his experience, stating: “Was emotional back to Elland Road. Thank you very much for the support.”


His attachment to the club who plucked him from Spain's second league is understandable. Highlighted in an interview during his time there; “I’m very happy here,” Becchio had said.

“I enjoy myself every time I play and I love the fact Leeds have such a big, big following – at home or away. There are always so many people there getting behind us. It is a great place to play and improve as a footballer.”

It isn't hard to understand his obvious love of Leeds. Family is something which very obviously means the world to him and, finding it hard to cope without his around him, it was no doubting that he had an adoptive one.

“It is very difficult because I have a very strong relationship with them,” he said when asked about them.

“We are in touch every day on the phone, by emails and webcams. But I really miss seeing my younger brother growing up, playing football. I have a young nephew as well and it is hard to know they are growing up with me so far away.”

His attitude and natural character also revealed itself on the football pitch, where he spoke passionately about how the team around were also his friends, a bond that is often unbreakable among footballers.

“We haven’t just played and trained together but we have become friends off the pitch too,” he continued. “That is important to me. I don’t want to just make partnerships at work but build friendships that will last if, in the future, we end up playing for different clubs or whatever.”

Modest in every way, there can be little argument that Becchio's status as a cult hero isn't deserved. While fans still chant his name, the club legend known as 'Lazarus', is, surprisingly, a mere mortal.