Leeds United F.C. History
Leeds United F.C. History : Foreword
1919-29 - The Twenties
1930-39 - The Thirties
1939-46 - The War Years
1947-49 - Post War Depression
1949-57 - The Reign of King John
1957-63 - From Charles to Revie
1961-75 - The Revie Years
1975-82 - The Downward Spiral
1982-88 - The Dark Years
1988-96 - The Wilko Years
1996-04 - The Rollercoaster Ride
2004-13 - Down Among The Deadmen
100 Greatest LUFC Players Ever
Greatest Leeds United Games
Players' Profiles
Managers' Profiles
Leeds City F.C. History
Leeds City F.C. Player and Manager Profiles
Leeds United/City Statistics
Leeds United/City Captains
Leeds United/City Friendlies and Other Games

O’Leary: David Anthony (David)

1993-1995 (Player Details)

Central Defender

Born: Stoke Newington, London: 02-05-1958

Debut: v Manchester City (a): 14-08-1993

6’2” 12st 6lb (1993)

Although O’Leary was born in London he moved to live in Dublin at the age of three. His father was born in Ireland and O'Leary later decided to play for the Republic of Ireland. He went to school in Dublin at St Kevin’s, Glasnevin and captained the Irish Schools side. He played for Shelbourne Juniors and had unsuccessful trials with Manchester United before joining Arsenal as an apprentice in June 1973. He soon progressed through the ranks at Highbury, playing in the reserves at the age of sixteen. He made his debut for Arsenal against Burnley on 16th August 1975, and despite being only seventeen, went on to make thirty appearances that season. For the next ten years he was ever-present in the Arsenal side, playing more than forty matches a season, except for1980-81, when he was injured and only played twenty-seven. A calm and collected centre-half, O'Leary was noted for his good positioning and elegant style of play. He was nicknamed by Arseanl fans "Spider" because of his long legs intercepting passes from the opposition. An Irish Youth International, he was at the heart of many of Arsenal’s victorious teams, winning League Championship medals in 1988-89 and 1990-91, FA Cup winners’ medals in 1979 and 1992 and League Cup winners’ medals in 1987 and 1992. Regarded as one of the best defenders in Europe, he was deceptively quick, supreme in the air and a wonderful distributor of the ball. He made his Republic of Ireland debut against England in a 1-1 draw at Wembley in September 1976 and was a member of the 1990 World Cup squad, earning national hero status when his spot-kick against Romania in a penalty shoot-out put Jack Charlton’s side into the quarter-finals for the first time in their history. He remained with Arsenal until he was given a free-transfer and joined Leeds in July 1993 aged thirty-five. Looking for experience to assist young central defenders David Wetherall and Jon Newsome, Leeds boss Howard Wilkinson opted for the Arsenal Legend on a three year contract. The holder of sixty-eight Republic of Ireland caps, he had spent twenty years at Highbury amassing a club record five hundred and fifty-eight League appearances, including thirty-five as a substitute and scored eleven goals. His class was obvious on his Leeds debut, but it was not long before his ageing limbs ran into injury problems and he was forced to give up the game in 1995 with Achilles tendon trouble. When Jack Charlton stood down as Ireland’s Manager, O’Leary was amongst those suggested as a possible successor before the appointment of Mick McCarthy. O’Leary’s younger brother, Pierce, played for Shamrock Rovers, Celtic, Vancouver Whitecaps and Philadelphia Fury, winning seven full Irish caps. He skippered Celtic when they met Arsenal at Highbury in August 1986 in his brother’s testimonial game. When the former Arsenal manager George Graham was put in charge at Leeds, in September 1996, O'Leary was installed as his assistant. He remained in this position for two years until Graham moved to Tottenham Hotspur. After Graham left for Tottenham, the Leeds board offered Martin O’Neill the manager's position, but the deal fell through and O'Leary was instead promoted to the hot seat. At the end of 1998-99 Leeds finished fourth in the EPL and qualified for the UEFA Cup. Their 1999-2000 campaign ended in the semi-final with defeat to the Turkish side Galatasaray. On the domestic front, Leeds finished third in the Premiership and qualified for the Champions League. It was their first campaign at that level since the 1992-1993 season. Leeds reached the Semi-Finals of the Champions League in 2000-2001, where they lost to eventual runners-up Valencia. Their Premiership form also dipped slightly and David O'Leary's men had to settle for a UEFA Cup place. Although there was little indication of this at the time, this was a serious failure for the club because Chairman Peter Ridsdale had borrowed £60 million against future gate receipts, budgeting for prolonged Champions League involvement. 2001-02 began well for Leeds. They frequently topped the table during the first half of the season and were Premiership leaders on 1st January 2002. However, loss of form in the second half of the season saw them slump into sixth place, the last automatic UEFA Cup place. The season was thrown into turmoil by the involvement of four players, including first-teamers Jonathan Woodgate and Lee Bowyer, in an incident in Leeds City centre that ended in the assault and injury of an Asian student. O'Leary to some extent alienated the fans, and more importantly Ridsdale, by writing a book, “Leeds United On Trial”, that some saw as cashing in on the troubles the club had suffered.By June 2002, O'Leary had spent almost £100 million on new players in less than four years for no reward in terms of trophies, but O'Leary had never finished outside the top six as a Manager. Ridsdale sacked O'Leary as Leeds Manager in the summer of 2002, replacing him with Terry Venables. O'Leary's departure signalled a downhill spiral for the club which would see three more managers (Venables, Peter Reid and Eddie Gray) come and go before the club was finally relegated from the Premiership in 2004 with £80 million debt. Even so his dismissal came as a surprise and was the first indication of the growing crisis at Leeds United. O'Leary, meanwhile, was linked with various other vacant Managers' jobs throughout the 2002-03 season. He was hot favourite to become manager of Sunderland when Peter Reid was sacked in October and again when Howard Wilkinson was sacked in March. But O'Leary remained out of work until June 2003 when he was appointed manager of Aston Villa. They had finished sixteenth in the Premiership and manager Graham Taylor’s second spell as manager had come to an end after just over a year. So Villa chairman Doug Ellis turned to David O'Leary in a bid to see the club's fortunes turn around. By the beginning of November 2003, Aston Villa were hovering just above the relegation zone and it looked as though O'Leary would be another of the club's unsuccessful managers. O'Leary remained at Villa and managed to get an already good squad to perform successfully so that by the final weeks of the season they were pushing hard for at least a UEFA Cup place and possibly even a Champions League place. But in the end their early season form had caught up with them and they had to settle for sixth place, one place too low for European qualification. During the 2004-05 season, Aston Villa hovered just below the European qualification places, ending the season in tenth spot. Despite a bright start to the season, they lacked the consistency that was attributed to his first season in charge. O'Leary occasionally made complaints towards aspects of his position which earned him the nickname 'Dreary O'Leary' to some fans. Despite six summer acquisitions including internationals Milan Baros and Kevin Phillips who added more quality to the squad, the 2005-06 season brought a disappointing turn for the worse for O'Leary. Injuries and suspensions decimated the squad, with only one fit centre back (Liam Ridgewell) available for selection at one point. He became increasingly under-fire from fans and media alike for a lack of tactical awareness, man management skills and enthusiasm for the success of the club. A series of poor results saw Villa hovering dangerously above the relegation zone going into December, with just seventeen points from seventeen games. However an improved winter period saw them move slightly up the league.This brief period of positive results was short-lived, and in the end, Villa finished sixteenth, just two places above the relegation zone. A storm broke surrounding David O'Leary and Aston Villa on 14th July 2006 when a press release, purporting to be from the Aston Villa players, criticised the Chairman Doug Ellis. The statement was rumoured to have been orchestrated by O'Leary to put pressure on Ellis to release more transfer funds. The media storm finally came to a head when on 19th July 2006, O'Leary's contract as Villa Manager was terminated by mutual consent. Despite many managerial positions becoming available, O'Leary was still looking for a return to football management.

League 100