Tony Yeboah only played 66 times for Leeds United, but he’s one of those players who left a lasting impact at Elland Road.
Signed by Howard Wilkinson from Eintracht Frankfurt, initially on loan followed by a £3.4 million fee, Yeboah treated Leeds fans to 32 goals in just two years. Most of them came in spectacular fashion from his thunderbolt left peg, followed by a trademark finger-wag celebration.
The Ghanian’s reaction to finding the back of the net felt almost like a way to silence his critics, something he’d been doing for years after a turbulent early career in Germany.
Yeboah was subjected to horrific racial abuse from his own fans at Eintracht Frankfurt. He was the first black player the team had ever signed, but his goal record (68 in 123 appearances) soon shut up the bigoted idiots and made him a cult hero.
After new manager Jupp Heynckes ostracised Yeboah and teammates Maurizio Gaudino and Jay-Jay Okocha, he moved to a Leeds side struggling in the Premier League. His arrival prompted an upturn in form and 12 goals in 18 appearances sent Leeds rocketing up the table to finish fifth and back into a UEFA Cup place.
The following year was when Yeboah truly cemented his hero status with Leeds fans.
On August 21, 1995, Leeds took on Liverpool at Anfield in front of the Sky cameras and unleashed a rocket from his unfavoured right boot that soared past David James and crashed into the net via the underside of the crossbar.
Liverpool had just signed Stan Collymore for a then-British record £8.5 million, and their team boasted ‘Spice Boys’ Jamie Redknapp, Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman.
The next week he followed it up with what’s potentially an even better goal: a chest down, knee control, shimmy left then right-foot blast into the back of the Wimbledon net.
Reminiscing about his time at Leeds and that Liverpool wonder strike, Yeboah told The Yorkshire Evening Post: “It was live on Sky so no one was watching anything else. On a Saturday you had games everywhere but on Monday, Leeds and Liverpool. Nothing else.
“I wasn’t happy at first, not because I didn’t like Leeds but because English football, the kick and rush, didn’t come naturally to me. I didn’t feel like I belonged there.
“But I played for the first time as a substitute against QPR, just a few minutes before the end of the game. There was no time to do anything but the crowd.
“It was live on Sky so no one was watching anything else. On a Saturday you had games everywhere but on Monday, Leeds and Liverpool. Nothing else.”
“I don’t know how much they knew about me or if they liked me but the way they treated me, the reception I got, was fantastic. It gave me strength. I was motivated. I thought ‘you know what? I’ll make this happen.”
Yeboah’s final season at Leeds sent him out on a sour note. He clashed with new manager George Graham and struggled with injuries after returning from the Africa Cup of Nations.
He didn’t find the net in his final season at Leeds and was eventually shipped out to Hamburger SV where he struggled for form.
Yeboah moved to Al-Ittihad in Qatar for a short spell in 2001 and retired a year later.
He was prolific at international level, netting 29 goals in 59 appearances for Ghana and ranks as their third highest goalscorer behind Abedi Pele and Asamoah Gyan.
Yeboah still has a football legacy in his nephew Freddy Adu, the Football Manager legend who’s now turning out for Tampa Bay Rowdies in the MLS.
Tony Yeboah, we salute you!