Get out the carpet bowls and rustle up a hearty chorus of ‘Ilkley Moor Bart T’at’, at long last, Leeds United are victors in Europe. The country’s favourite West Yorkshire yeomen have suffered more than most at the hands of tricksy continental opponents in recent years, but Howard Wilkinson has finally worked out how to take on the best foreign teams and persuade them to part with one of their best players.
In previous forays into the transfer market, chiefly to snap up players from his home town of Sheffield, Wilkinson stuck to the tried and tested British methods which included taking the player house-hunting on a windswept, but exclusive, ‘neo-Georgian’ estate ten miles in any direction from the nearest shops, plying him with boxes of duty free fags and promising a ten-piece brass band escort to accompany him and his family wherever they go.
Tomas Skuhravy, Ruben Sosa and Faustino Asprilla having all proved surprisingly resistant to these temptations, so Wilkinson decided on a more flexible approach for the confrontation with Parma. Brolin, he reasoned, would have to be persuaded that Leeds is more Swedish than Sweden itself.
Firstly, he was brought to the neg-otiating table with the offer of a three-storey sauna to live in, with an ‘art’ video library ext-ension built on to the kitchen, a temple to worship his favourite Norse gods in the back garden, regular Ingmar Bergmann discussion workshops in the local church hall and daily deliveries from the region’s only specialist cold buffet catering service. All that remained was the signature.
From WSC 107 January 1996. What was happening this month