Leeds United's Ultimate 25-Man Squad of the Premier League Era

Leeds United
Leeds United | Alex Livesey/Getty Images

There was a time when Leeds were 90 minutes away from a Champions League final. There was also a time since that they were in the bottom half of League One. To say the Premier League era has been a mixed bag for Leeds would be an understatement.

They began life in the Premier League as reigning champions of England, after winning the last First Division title. They've since found themselves mid-table, big money title contenders, European giants, relegated, relegated again, promoted, and now on the cusp of a return to the top flight under Marcelo Bielsa. All of this alongside more playoff heartbreak than any sane fan should be able to handle.

But through it all, the Yorkshire club have had their share of brilliant players and cult heroes as they've bounced around the leagues. The big question is, which 25 most deserve to be in their ultimate squad?

Goalkeepers

Nigel Martyn was a colossal figure at Leeds
Nigel Martyn was a colossal figure at Leeds | Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Nigel Martyn - One of the best keepers the Premier League has ever seen, Martyn never gets the recognition because he happened to be at his peak at the same time as David Seaman. His place in Leeds history was cemented when he was chosen as keeper in their all-time XI back in 2006.

Paul Robinson - The man who replaced Martyn, Robinson showed in two seasons the ability that would give him something his predecessor never had - England's number one jersey.

Capser Ankergren - When Leeds were relegated, they needed a new hero. This Dane stepped in and kept a clean sheet at Old Trafford, back when Man Utd were the best in the country. Enough said.

Centre Backs

Lucas Radebe
Lucas Radebe | Phil Cole/Getty Images

Lucas Radebe - A true Leeds legend, Radebe was everything you'd want in a captain and a defender. He wasn't just the hero of everyone at Elland Road either - he was Nelson Mandela's!

Pontus Jansson - Another true Leed's legend, Jansson was everything you'd want in a captain and a defender. But seriously, Jansson was incredible for Leeds, and the embodiment of a cult hero.

Rio Ferdinand - When Radebe's knees went, Leeds signed Rio. What a defender, the rock around which Alex Ferguson built his last great Man Utd team, which says everything you need to know about a defender who could do absolutely everything.

Jonathan Woodgate - Became a bit of a joke after his move to Real Madrid, but let's not forget, he got a move to Real Madrid! If not for injuries, Woodgate could have been truly special.

Right Backs

Leeds v Real Madrid
Mr. Leeds, Kelly dropped down the leagues with his club | Michael Steele/Getty Images

Gary Kelly - If anyone could hold the title of Mr Leeds, Gary Kelly would be up there with 531 appearances over 16 seasons. Won many plaudits across the country for choosing to stay with Leeds after relegation to the Championship.

Sam Byram - He's struggled to adapt to the top flight, but Sam Byram was excellent for Leeds after coming through the youth set up. He was a real star for them in the Championship for four years.

Left Backs

Ezgjan Alioski
Alioski is a versatile option for Leeds on the left | George Wood/Getty Images

Ian Harte - One of the finest left backs of his era, and unfairly left out of most conversations of greatest free-kick takers, Ian Harte was a shoo in for this position. How many people knew he was Gary Kelly's nephew? Strange.

Ezgian Alioski - Mainly deployed as a winger, Alioski has all the flair to stand out in the Championship, though his lack of consistency may leave his position under threat if Leeds were promoted. He certainly has top-flight credentials though, that's clear to see.

Central Midfielders

Kalvin Phillips
How long can Leeds hold onto their star man? | George Wood/Getty Images

Olivier Dacourt - As far as game-changers go, Dacourt was that for Leeds. He added the steel to the side which saw them make the Champions League semi finals, and cement themselves in the top four. The reason Terry Venebles preferred Paul Okon will forever be a mystery.

Jonny Howson - A cult figure wherever he's been, Howson came through the Leeds academy and captained their League One promotion team. Lived the dream with his boyhood club.

Kalvin Phillips - Leeds' current star man, they'll do well to hold onto Phillips in the summer. Considering the Whites were one of the best teams in the country for a long time, it's a credit to his ability that he features in this side ahead of Gary McAllister and Gary Speed.

David Batty - One from the glory years who does make it in, Batty spent two successful spells in Yorkshire, improving the midfield greatly both times. The screams of 'SHOOOOT' when he was 35 yards out never fazed him - he'd just play a killer through ball instead.

Right Midfielders

Luciano Becchio, Robert Snodgrass
Snodgrass has risen through the leagues since breaking through at Leeds | Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Robert Snodgrass - On his day, Snodgrass is unplayable, and he was one of the key figures that helped Leeds to promotion from League One back in 2010. He's a proven operator in the Premier League these days, and inspirational at his best.

Stuart Dallas - Extremely versatile, Stuart Dallas has endeared himself to the Leeds faithful with a string of great performances all over the pitch. A natural right winger, he's the type of player every manager wants in their squad, and Bielsa is no different.

Left Midfielders

Harry Kewell
The Wizard of Oz, Harry Kewell lit up Elland Road in the late 90's | Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Harry Kewell - Gerard Houllier bought him at Liverpool instead of Cristiano Ronaldo. It made sense at the time, the Aussie favourite was the key man in Leeds' successful side at the turn of the millennium. What did Ronaldo ever do for Leeds?

Kemar Roofe - A reliable goalscorer all over the park, his form over the last couple of years was enough to earn a move to... Anderlecht. Roofe had to be in here, if he hadn't gotten injured at the end of last season Leeds would have probably been back in the Premier League already.

Attacking Midfielders

Pablo Hernandez
A common sight in Yorkshire, Hernandez is a classy operator | Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Pablo Hernandez - Magnificent midfielder who's added real Spanish class to the front line in recent years, Hernandez is easily one of the best players outside the top flight. Nearly put Alan Smith here, but to our knowledge, Hernandez hasn't offended the whole city... yet.

Lee Bowyer - Oh Lee Bowyer, what should have been. For every magic performance against Barcelona, there was a GBH charge. Let's focus on his ability though, he may have lacked morals, but never ability.

Strikers

Mark Viduka
Leeds legend Viduka scored for fun in white | Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Mark Viduka - With a good claim to be among Leeds' greatest ever centre forwards, Mark Viduka combined power and clinical ability in dominant performances during his days at Elland Road. He kept the club up by himself in 2002/03.

Jermaine Beckford - Scored the goal in the 1-0 FA Cup win at Old Trafford, hit 30 goals two years in a row, was the star of Leeds' time in League One. Tell us why Beckford shouldn't be here?

Luciano Becchio - When Beckford left, Becchio stuck around. If you asked any Leeds fan who their favourite player was between 2010 and 2013, there's a good chance it would be Becchio. Swore on Sky Sports once. What a lad.

Tony Yeboah - If history was kinder, Michael Bridges would have probably taken this slot, but Tony Yeboah can't be overlooked. His stay in Yorkshire was short, but my word was it memorable. Those two volleys against Liverpool and Wimbledon are as iconic as goals come.