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

Okon: Paul Michael (Paul)

2002-2003 (Player Details)

Central Midfield

Born: Sydney, Australia: 05-04-1972

Debut: v Fulham (a): 07-12-2002

5’9 1/2” 13st 3lb (2003)

Okon grew up in the Sydney suburb of Bossley Park. He is of German and Italian descent. He represented his high school, Patrician Brothers’College, Fairfield during his time as a teenage schoolboy and featured prominently in all teams including the A Grade squad. However, his abilities did not stop at the football pitch. He set the record for high jump at the College's annual Athletics Carnival in the Under-Sixteens age group which was not broken until 2004. Okon was childhood friend with Italian striker Christian Vieri, who grew up in Australia. They both later play together at SS Lazio in 1998/1999. His first professional team was Marconi Stallions in the Australian NSL and in the two seasons of 1989-1991 he scored four goals in forty-nine appearances before joining the Belgian Club FC Brugge. He won the Papasavas Medal for best Under-Twenty-one player in the NSL in both seasons. Still not twenty, he took a while to establish himself but he remained in Belgium for five seasons, scoring once in seventy-two appearances, helping FC Brugge to the Belgian League Championship in 1995-96 and the Belgian Cup in 1994-95 and 1995-96 winning the Belgian Golden Shoe in 1995-96 as their ‘Player of the Year’. He moved to SS Lazio in the Serie-A and played fourteen games in the 1996-97 season before sustaining injuries which kept him out of football for a long time and at one point looked to have ended his career. He was back in the 1998-99 season and made five more appearances for Lazio before moving on to Fiorentina, where he made eleven appearances in the 1999-2000 season. With Middlesbrough in dire straits their Manager, Terry Venables, who had worked with Okon when he was Captain of Australia while Venables was the coach of the Socceroos, brought him to the Riverside. He played his part in keeping Boro in the EPL and made twenty-eight appearances before being released after Venables departure early in the 2001-02 season. He joined Watford and made fifteen appearances for them in that season before departing on a free-transfer on 13th August 2002 to rejoin Venables, who had just become Manager at Leeds. He was sidelined by injury and did not make his debut until 7th December 2002, by which time Leeds were in deep relegation trouble and beset by injury problems to many of their stars. Slowly they clawed their way back with Okon playing the anchor role in midfield and had a fine run of form over the festive period, which saw United rise to eleventh position, despite their continuing injury crisis. Okon was there, week in, week out, providing the steel and the glue which kept the Leeds team together. Okon further showed his capabilities by leading the Socceroos to a 3-1 victory over England at Upton Park on 12th February 2003. However, Leeds, who had managed to reach the Sixth Round of the FA Cup, lost three consecutive League games and dropped back towards the relegation zone and were knocked out of the Cup by Nationwide League Sheffield United. Venables was sacked and Peter Reid kept faith with the Leeds team and Okon played as Leeds lost his first game in charge. It proved to be his last game for Leeds as he never figured in any team picked by Reid, not even as substitute. He left on a free transfer as the club paid out his contract and he went to Vicenza in Serie B in Italy before the transfer deadline. He lasted five months in Italy. He later played with KV Oostende (Belgium) in 2004-05 and Apoel Nicosia (Cyprus) in 2005-06 before returning to Australia to play for the Newcastle Jets in the A-League. Okon fitted into a well constructed Jets side and helped them make the playoffs. He made seventeen appearances in 2006-07 before retiring in June 2007 at the age of thirty-five. He cited injuries as his reason saying he had intended to play in the following A-League season but that his body could no longer cope with the injuries and demand of professional football. The defender-midfielder had polarised opinion during his career and, by his own admission, would be remembered as a player "with an enormous amount of talent but who wasn't able to reach his full potential due to injury". When he was twenty-five he was told by two surgeons that he wouldn't have a long professional career and it went on for another ten years, he was able to claim. The last of his thirty-seven Australian caps was against Jamaica in 2003, when he split the defence to set up Harry Kewell's winner. He was captain yet never got another call-up. His international highlight was captaining the Young Socceroos. They made the semi-finals in the Youth World Cup in Portugal in 1991 and played in front of 120,000. He represented Australia in their Olympic Football Team at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. He was Oceania Player of the Year in 1996. On 24th June 2008 he was named as one of the recipients of the inaugural three year Elite Coach Development Scholarships given by the FFA. It meant spending time with the Italian Under-Twenty-three side under Pierluigi Casiraghi in the lead up to the 2008 Olympic Games, and the youth setup of PSV Eindhoven. He was appointed Assistant Coach to Miron Bleiberg at Gold Coast United on 2nd September 2008 and took up the temporary coaching position with APIA Leichhardt in the NSW Premier League prior to the Gold Coast's season starting in August 2009. On 30th October 2008 Okon was also appointed to lead the Australian Under-eighteen side at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in January 2009, in their preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games. He was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 2009. On 23rd February 2010 Gold Coast United did not renew his contract as coach.

AppearancesGoals
League 150
F.A. Cup 50
Europe 10