Former Leeds United player Tom Taiwo has said he has no regrets about his controversial exit from Elland Road, along with Michael Woods, that ended up netting the club £5m.
Taiwo was talking in a fascinating interview by Phil Hay in the Athletic.
Taiwo moved to Chelsea from Leeds in July 2016 and this kick-started a bitter legal battle that ended up being settled out of court.
Things didn’t work out for Taiwo at Stamford Bridge and he ended up moving to Carlisle on a free three years later.
The now-30-year-old retired last year after stints at a few Scottish clubs, most recently Hamilton Academical.
Talking about his exit from Leeds, Taiwo said, “Growing up as a kid, all I’d wanted to do was play for Leeds United and be a professional footballer.”
However, that changed after Leeds lost the Championship play-off final in 2006.
“There were massive financial difficulties at the club,” Taiwo said. “We could all see that. I loved football but I was switched on as well. I’m looking at the bigger picture and thinking, ‘Leeds are in trouble here’.
“I was there in the season when they got relegated to the Championship. I was there in the first season under Kevin Blackwell. You know when you can tell that things aren’t right? Well, that was it.”
The mood at Elland Road under Marcelo Bielsa might be hugely optimistic now but it’s taken a long time to get back to this point.
You can trace a lot of the recent troubles at Leeds back to this period, with the 2006 play-off final proving to be a disaster for Leeds.
Few fans would have thought that losing that would lead to Leeds still looking to win back their top-flight status 14 years later.
Administration, a points reduction and relegation to League One followed.
You have to wonder how differently things would have worked out had Leeds beaten Watford and whether Taiwo would have stayed at Elland Road and enjoyed a completely different career.
He wouldn’t have known it at the time but it was a real sliding doors moment for him.
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