Before Messi... There was Rod Wallace!

21 May 2018 11:04am, by YorkshireSquare

Rodney Seymour Wallace signed for the Southampton as trainee in 1986 along with his twin brother Ray. Elder brother Danny had already become an established member of the Southampton first team. On 22nd October 1988, his two brothers Danny and Ray lined up alongside him in the Southampton team in a match at The Dell against Sheffield Wednesday; this was the first time three brothers had played in the same team in English professional top-flight football.

His start at Southampton mirrored that of his twin Ray, but he was quickly being tipped for the top after some dazzling displays for the Saints and eleven England Under-Twenty-one caps and a couple of ‘B’ caps followed. He netted forty-five goals in one hundred and one League starts for Southampton and Leeds won the race to sign him, a tribunal setting the £1.6 million fee in July 1991.

On his day little ‘Hot Rod’s darting runs could slice open any defence and he enjoyed a superb 1991-92 League championship campaign when his busy feet complemented the raw power of Lee Chapman as Leeds stormed to the First Division Championship. In September 1992 he was called up for an England trip to Spain, but injury prevented him from going and after that his confidence seemed to dip, taking his form with it.

However, his ‘Goal of the Season’ against Tottenham Hotspur in April 1994 ranks as one of the greatest solo goals ever seen at Elland Road, when he cut a swathe through a posse of defenders at pace and curled in a wonderful shot from just inside the penalty area. Lionel Messi eat your heart out!

His partnership with Brian Deane failed to come up with the goals and towards the end of 1995-96 a return to Southampton looked on the cards, but Wallace could not agree personal terms. Many believe his speed made him a better prospect as a winger rather than an out-and-out striker where competition at Elland Road became intense as Liverpool and Wales star Ian Rush signed in May 1996 to team up with Tony Yeboah. Wallace found himself even more marginalized with the arrival of George Graham as Manager and he would not sign an extension to his contract which was due to expire in June 1998. This resulted in Wallace joining Scottish giants Rangers on a Bosman transfer.

For more on Leeds United's greatest players check out OzWhites Leeds United F.C. History.

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