Exclusive Gary Kelly interview

Exclusive Gary Kelly interview

We caught up with our former defender.

Former Leeds United full-back Gary Kelly went on to become an icon at the club after making his debut against Scunthorpe United back on October 8th 1991.

Kelly went on to amass a huge 531 appearances and spent his entire career with the Whites, which came to a close in 2007.

During his time at the club, Leeds won the First Division in 1992, along with reaching the 1996 League Cup final and the Champions League semi final in 2001.

Here Kelly talks to us about his time at the club...


Gary, what was it like playing for Leeds United?

"It was amazing to tell you the truth.  I’m always thankful for what the club has done for me. From being on trial at 15, at 16 when I signed a semi-professional contract and then 17 when it kicked into a professional contract spanning 17 years.  I loved it here and so did all of my kids and family, I’ll never forget it.”


You went on to make over 500 appearances, which in this day and age is a very rare feat to achieve…

“It was home from home for me here.  I loved Ireland, I was there for 15/16 years, but when you move over to Leeds there’s no point going anywhere else really.  I was comfortable my wife was happy, the kids were happy, we had kids over here and we made loads of new friends and I wouldn’t swap a thing, I’ll always have Leeds in me.”


What was it like playing at Elland Road every week in the famous atmosphere?

“It was brilliant.  The supporters were great, it really is some support, it's amazing and I'll never forget it.  Off the pitch, the supporters were our 12th man, especially at home.  Even when things weren’t going great, when teams came to Elland Road there was always a scare factor."


Is there a particular highlight that sticks out for you?

“I have so many highlights, it’s hard to pick one out from over 500 games haha!  Of course you always remember your debut, for me against Scunthorpe at home in the League Cup and then Nottingham Forest away in the league.   I would like to say a big thank you to Howard Wilkinson for giving me my opportunity and the five or six managers after him as well.  Jack Charlton the Ireland manager who is also obviously a big Leeds connection also had a big impact on me being involved in the Ireland setup early on and I don't think I would have been in the setup if it wasn't for that connection, so I got to play in a couple of World Cups during my time at Leeds.  I made so many friends along the way for life, but have also lost friends like Phil Masinga and Gary Speed which is heartbreaking, having been with them and getting on with their families and they will never be forgotten. With all of the ex-players and everything, Leeds is a massive family club.”


Is there one teammate who you think is the best you ever played with?

“I wouldn't want to call one out, but my schoolboy heroes were Gordon Strachan  and Paul McGrath.  I was lucky enough to play with both of them, Gordon at Leeds and Paul with Ireland.”


You were back in Leeds for the club’s centenary events, what was it like to see old friends again?

“Just seeing people like Gordon Strachan it was amazing and Howard Wilkinson as well.  When Howard came to say hello to me, I still got that shiver and it immediately took me back to thinking, are my boots clean? There is just so much respect.”


Finally, what are your thoughts on the club now?

“I think the club has got even bigger since I left.  Leeds should be in the Premier League.  It was always a massive club, but now from the outside looking in now you actually realise how big the club is. I love the fan base and I’m still Leeds through and through."