The word ‘legend’ gets banded about quite a lot if football, and it’s even more difficult to attribute legend status in our recent history outside the top flight. But if there is one man from this era who is certain to be an LUFC legend it is Jermaine Beckford who has announce his retirement from football. In 152 games for Leeds United he scored 85 goals, helped secure promotion to the Championship and knocked Manchester United out of the FA Cup. At 54 in our 100 Greatest Leeds Players, Beckford will always be a legend in our eyes.
A former Chelsea Junior, Jermaine was signed from Non-League club Wealdstone in March 2006 for £50,000 after impressing United with his goal scoring feats. He had scored thirty-five goals in forty appearances and United beat the likes of Chelsea, Crystal Palace and Watford to obtain his signature and soon rewarded him with some CCCL action albeit from the substitutes bench. After failing to impress in the CCCL he was loaned to Carlisle United for a month in October 2006, scoring once in four League games and making one appearance in another game.
He again failed to break into the United first team and went on loan to Scunthorpe United mid-January 2007. There he quickly became a local hero, scoring eight times in seventeen League starts and one substitute appearance, but United recalled him at the end of the season and refused to accede to Scunthorpe’s overtures for his services. Finding League One more to his liking he soon became United’s regular striker and main goal scorer. He finished the season as United’s leading goal scorer with twenty goals and was elected the club’s Player of the Year. He secured a new three year contract in October 2007.
Beckford scored twenty-seven league goals and thirty-four goals in all competitions in the 2008-09 season. It was the best by any Leeds player since John Charles scored forty-three during the 1953/54 season. Beckford was hot-property and with only a year remaining on his current contract, Leeds showed their intentions by offering Beckford a new contract. However, on 26th May 2009, Beckford rejected the contract offer and the club placed him on the transfer list. After weeks of speculation, on 9th July 2009 Leeds announced that they had received two bids by unnamed clubs but had rejected both.
Leeds removed Beckford from the transfer list on 17th July 2009 and he started the 2009-10 season in spectacular fashion, scoring eleven times in his first fourteen appearances and had accumulated nineteen goals before interest from Newcastle United prompted Beckford to put in a transfer request. It was accepted by the club, but Beckford continued to play and produced his finest hour and the club's most noteworthy performance for many years, when he got the only goal in a fine victory over Manchester United in the Third Round of the FA Cup at Old Trafford. He backed this up with two goals at White Hart Lane as Tottenham Hotspur were held to a 2-2 draw in the Fourth Round.
Everton had announced that they had reached a verbal agreement with Beckford to sign him as soon as he was out of contract. While his form started to be indifferent it wasn't helped by nagging injuries and he finished the season with twenty-five goals in the League and thirty-one in total, which was a deciding factor in United's promotion. In recognition of this United released him from his contract as soon as possible after the season's end and in May 2010 he signed a four-year contract when he moved to Everton on a free transfer. Beckford went on to have spells at Leicester, Huddersfield, Bolton, Preston and Bury but will always hold a special place in the hearts of Leeds United fans.
While at Leeds he had won several awards. In 2007/08 and 2009/10 he was the League One player of the year, while in 2008/09 he won the League One golden boot and was the PFA League One fans' player of the year. He also won Leeds' player of the year awards in 2008 and 2009.
Leeds United legend Jermaine Beckford announces retirement