My Favourite Player: Dominic Matteo

Ryan Parrish tells us why Dominic Matteo is his favourite player – and recalls that famous header in the San Siro which sent Leeds through to the next stage of the Champions League.

“In August 2000, David O’Leary made one of his most low-key, yet most influential signings of his time at Leeds United. Signed from Liverpool for £4.5 million, Scottish international Dominic Matteo turned out to be one of the stand out performers in the Whites’ now infamous 2000/01 Champions League campaignwhich saw them take on Europe’s elite, only to be beaten in the semi-finals by eventual runners-up, Valencia.

Matteo made an impressive debut at Elland Road in a 1-0 win against Italian giants AC Milan and soon earned his place in the hearts of the Elland Road faithful. He went on to score in the 6-0 drubbing of Besiktas and his impressive performances were earning him a regular place at the heart of Leeds’ defence, despite stiff competition from Lucas Radebe, Jonathan Woodgate and £18 million signing, Rio Ferdinand.

The Leeds fans instantly took to Matteo’s no nonsense attitude but there was one particular game in which he really earned a place in their hearts and wrote himself into Leeds United folklore. O’Leary’s Leeds went to the San Siro to take on AC Milan, knowing that a point would send them through to the next group stages of the Champions League and keep their European dream alive. Leeds rose to the challenge and Matteo rose majestically to head home Lee Bowyer’s corner just before half-time. Brazilian international Serginho equalised in the second half and despite waves of AC Milan pressure, a nervy Leeds hung on to progress to the next round at the expense of Barcelona. Ten years on, that night in Milan is still talked about and Matteo’s goal in the San Siro is still sung about by Leeds fans.

Matteo was rewarded for his influential performances by being handed the captain’s armband after the sale of Rio Ferdinand in 2002. No-one could’ve expected the turmoil that Leeds were to go through in the few years that followed but as a mass exodus on the playing squad was forced upon the club due to financial difficulties, Matteo stayed loyal throughout, showing great passion and commitment week in, week out. Despite Matteo’s best efforts, Leeds were inevitably relegated at the end of the 2003/04 season and he went on to join Blackburn Rovers, leaving Leeds fans with fond memories of his time at Elland Road.

In 2010 he returned to Leeds United where he became the club’s Sporting Bet ambassador and he is currently a columnist for the Yorkshire Evening Post writing about all things Leeds.

Matteo made 115 appearances for the Whites during his four years at the club, and he earned himself six Scotland caps whilst at Elland Road. The spirit he showed epitomised exactly what Leeds United stand for and his commitment to the cause was refreshing in an age where loyalty seemed to be absent at Elland Road. Matteo is now seen as somewhat of a cult hero but I firmly believe that he deserves to be regarded as a true Leeds United legend.”

– Ryan Parrish is a first year journalism student at Leeds Metropolitan University.

2 Responses to “My Favourite Player: Dominic Matteo”

  1. Really liking this feature guys, keep up the good work guys!


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