July 2007, the Times compiled a list of the
50 worst signings made by Premier League clubs since 1992,
the year when the top division of the Football League was modernised
as the Premier League.
At 46th place we find Darren Huckerby, the man who saved Coventry
from relegation in 1997, then playing a major role and scoring
the winner when City beat Manchester United 3-2 the following
season. He was sold to Leeds United for £6 million in 1999.
With Leeds, Huckerby managed to score two goals in 40 games,
or £3 million per goal. However, he is not the worst transfer
in Leeds United's history . Not by a long shot. In at Number 4
is the infamous Tomas Brolin.
When Tomas Brolin signed for Leeds in November 1995 he enjoyed
a reputation as one of the world's best footballers. He had enjoyed
some great seasons with Parma in Italy, helping them win the European
Cup Winners' Cup in 1992. Brolin was also one of, if not the,
best player in the Sweden team that finished in third place at
the 1994 World Cup finals.
His pace and technique made him one of the most feared attacking
midfielders in Europe at the time. But the decline was just about
In an international match for Sweden in November 1994, Brolin
broke his foot and had to undergo surgery. During this time, Parma
were two points clear at the top of the Italian league. But when
Brolin returned five months later, the team started to lose. He
lost his place in the team and sought a move elsewhere, turning
down offers from three Italian clubs before deciding to join Leeds
United for £4.5 million.
A Career in Decline
United manager Howard Wilkinson saw Brolin as the perfect foil
for the club's top scorer Tony Yeboah, and on the day of the signing,
he said "He is a class player, and I believe he will prove to
be an excellent buy for Leeds. I am sure he is going to be an
excellent partner for Tony Yeboah". This was also the view of
the Ghanaian forward "I am sure Tomas and I are going to work
well together. He is truly world class. He can weigh in with goals
of his own, and link up with the other players in the side. We
are going to be very difficult to defend against."
Brolin had high hopes when he arrived in England in November
1995. "Give me a month to get my full fitness back, and to adapt
to playing in England, and then I will show people what I can
really do. I believe I can help Leeds win the Championship again.
I have had great support from the fans and gradually regained
my fitness. I am really excited about the future at Elland Road,"
Brolin scored his first goal against Sheffield Wednesday in December
(Leeds lost 6-2,) and it was without a doubt one
of the weirdest goals in his career.
During December, Brolin started a few games, and scored two goals
against West Ham at Elland Road. He had now scored four goals
in eight games. Maybe the purchase of the Swede would pay off
... but then it all began. Howard Wilkinson and Tomas Brolin
had different views on Brolin's role in the team. After the 5-0
defeat against Liverpool and 2-1 defeat against Nottingham Forest,
Brolin was dropped for the League match against Aston Villa.
"Presumably, I didn't wake up in the middle of the night and
have a vision, if Brolin had done well he would have played. I
picked a team from 15 available players, with nine either suspended,
injured or on international duty. I decided the team at Villa
would be better without Tomas Brolin. If he had been playing brilliantly
I would have picked him - but before we played Liverpool Brolin
was concerned about the amount of defending he had to do for the
side. He suggested I reconsider, he expressed the opinion he wasn't
very good at it and he felt my decision to leave him out at Villa
was eminently sensible," Wilkinson said in February 1996.
After this, Brolin only featured sporadically in a Leeds shirt.
He came off the bench against Villa in the League Cup final and
said later, "If I cannot play from the start in a final like that.
I have to think about my future. I don't know where my future
lies now. I wanted to play on Sunday, but the manager thinks his
way and I think mine. Perhaps we should go our separate ways.
I have to go away and think about my future and whether I want
to play for Leeds. The way I feel at the moment, I think I must
try to find another team."
Brolin began looking for a new club during the summer of 1996
but interest from Verona, Bari, Fiorentina, Sampdoria, Real Betis,
Espanyol and Real Sociedad all came to nothing. Wilkinson fined
Brolin a week's wages (around £12,000) for not turning up for
pre-season training. Brolin went out on loan to FC Zurich and
was quoted as saying, "I'm not surprised he's gone," when Wilkinson
was sacked by Leeds in September.
New manager George Graham refused to allow Brolin's loan to continue
beyond its scheduled end date of September 30 and was furious
when the Swede didn't return, threatening to retire rather than
play again for Leeds.
A loan move to Sampdoria fell through after a medical and then
Brolin paid out £500,000 to fund a loan move back to Parma. The
Italian club had a decent season but were clearly not interested
in a long term deal, revealing that they had only agreed to a
loan deal to allow him to regain fitness as a show of gratitude
for his previous spell with the club.
When he returned to Elland Road, he was exiled to the reserves
by George Graham and a number of proposed transfer deals all failed
to come to anything. After missing training and publicly criticising
Graham in a newspaper article, Brolin was fined £90,000. After
a legal wrangle the player's contract was finally terminated.
Graham: "Brolin didn't do much, did he? He was very quiet and
I can't understand what all the hype was about. Apart from a couple
of decent seasons with Parma, what's he ever done? You tell me.
People think I fell out with him, but that's not the case at all.
He told me he didn't want to play for Leeds, so there was no point
in keeping him at the club."
Despite trials with Barnsley and Crystal Palace Brolin never
managed to regain a place in top-level football.
What is Tomas Brolin Doing Today?
When Brolin retired from football, he opened an Italian restaurant
in Stockholm, Sweden. He has also started an offline and online
gaming career and has captured a few money wins in poker tournaments
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