Exclusive Chris Whyte interview part 1

We caught up with our former defender.

Chris Whyte Web 1.jpg

As Leeds United prepared to return to the top flight in 1990, manager Howard Wilkinson secured the services of defender Chris Whyte from West Bromwich Albion.

Whyte was an experienced defender, having started his career with Arsenal, he went on to play in America in the Major Indoor Soccer League, before returning to England with the Baggies.

He became an integral part of the Leeds United defence during his three years at the club, in which the Whites went on to win the First Division for the third time in the club’s history.

Here we talk to Whyte about his time at the club, including the incredible tale about his transfer to the club…

Chris, how did the move to Leeds United in 1990 come about?

“It was absolutely crazy to be honest! I came here from West Bromwich Albion.  At the end of the season as people will know, clubs can go away as a thank you or well done to the players.  West Brom went to the States and we played a couple of exhibition games out there in LA.  I roomed with Don Goodman and one night I was nodding off to sleep and the phone went.  Don answered it and he said: ‘Whytey it’s for you’.  So I took the phone and the person on the other end said: ‘Chris, it’s Mick Hennigan, I’m Howard Wilkinson’s assistant and he’s asked me to contact you’.  No word of a lie I put the phone down as I thought it was a wind up haha! No word of a lie, I put the phone down haha! I'd just dropped off to sleep and the phone went again.  Don answered it and again said 'Whytey it's for you'.  I took the phone and as quick as you like it was: 'Chris it's Mick Hennigan, please don’t put the phone down’.  Basically he explained how Howard had asked him to contact me and the rest is history.  I ended up meeting Howard and Bill Fotherby  and I couldn’t wait to get going.”

A lot of people have talked about the impact Bill Fotherby had on persuading people to join the club, was it a similar thing for you?

“Yes for sure!  He knew how to sell the club to a player, but of course I knew the size of the club and what it means to Yorkshire and the Leeds fans.  I couldn’t wait to get going once I knew Howard wanted me and I saw the players that were at the club.  Obviously after getting promoted I thought wow, what a challenge this is, I just couldn't wait.”

What was it like playing for Howard Wilkinson?

“When I spoke to people, certain people said it doesn’t seem like Howard has any charisma and his dour and this, that and the other.  But when you work with him, he was very organised and you knew that he wanted to get the best out of you and I really enjoyed playing for him.  Yeah, he may not have had theflamboyancy of a Ron Atkinson for example, but in his own way he’d get the best out of his players.”

Keep your eye on the Leeds United website this week to read more from Chris Whyte.

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