Leon Clarke. A player that visited Bramall Lane as a Sheffield Wednesday player, then booed as a Coventry City and Bury player years later because of his connection with the other side of the city. Back then you’d associate the striker as being lazy, injury prone, but a good finisher.
When Sheffield United signed Clarke in the summer of 2016 by Chris Wilder the transfer split opinion amongst the fans, because of his past with the Owls. From that point, who would ever have thought he would go on to cement himself as a modern day Blades legend.
Speaking to Yorkshire Post, Clarke revealed:
“It was spoken about. There was a little hesitancy from myself to join, I knew there was going to be a backlash from Sheffield United fans and from Sheffield Wednesday fans. I spoke to Chris Wilder and Alan Knill about it.
“Chris was really good with me, he was just really honest. He said ‘if you try your hardest, these fans will back you, win lose or draw, scoring goals or not’. He said if I show them 110 per cent then they’d be on my side and back me. Once he said that, I knew what I had to do.”
In his 96 appearances in the red and white shirt he registered 32 goals and ten assists.
Having played in a Steel City derby for both clubs, one of his most famous appearances as a Blade was when Leon Clarke led an injury-ravaged attack at Hillsborough in the 17/18 season. Sheffield United dismantled Wednesday 4-2, with the striker scoring two goals.
“I played in one [derby] at Sheffield United and I played in one at Sheffield Wednesday. The Sheffield Wednesday one, I don’t remember the atmosphere being that electric,” Clarked admitted.
“When I’d made the move to Sheffield United, we played Sheffield Wednesday and it kind of dawned on me how big the game actually was.”
The 38-year-old now plays for Kettering Town in the Southern Football League Premier Division Central.