Former Leeds United striker Simon Johnson has opened up on his spell at Leeds United. The striker was destined for big things at Elland Road but only made eleven appearances for Leeds United between 2000 and 2005 and has opened up on his time at the club.
Simon Johnson, who finished his footballing career back in 2014, has since gone to create the Simon Johnson Universal Soccer Academy after a brief spell as a coach at Premier League side West Bromwich Albion.
After moving to Sunderland on loan under Mick McCarthy in 2004, Johnson revealed that he was "looking to get out" of Leeds United due to a number of disagreements with then-boss Kevin Blackwell. Former Sheffield United midfielder Simon Wedgbury previously regarded the Blackwell, the current assistant manager at Championship side Middlesbrough, as "terrible with the young lads"- which along with Johnson's admissions, does not paint the former Sheffield United and Leeds manager in a particularly favourable light.
Johnson described his stint at Sunderland as "one of the better times in his career" however the striker revealed that he did "find it quite difficult" as he didn't think "he was at the level at the time" due to the intensity of Mick McCarthy's training at the Stadium Of Light.
Discussing on the Undr The Cosh podcast, Johnson revealed that he moved to Leeds United at the age of 14 before moving into digs which was a "no-brainer" for the talented striker. Johnson revealed that he started "training with the first team after a month of being with the under 17's" due to an injury crisis at the club. Johnson revealed that he was pushed up the ranks quickly, even if it was unexpected.
Johnson, now 38, revealed that his idol was Alan Smith, who was then the top prospect at the club. Johnson opened up on his admiration for the former Manchester United, Newcastle and Leeds United striker, stating that whenever Alan Smith played for the reserves, that he was "in awe" of his ability.
Simon Johnson opened up on the circumstances surrounding Seth Johnson's controversial signing for Leeds United from Derby County. Johnson stated that Seth Johnson, no relation to Simon, "went in with his agent for 20 grand" a week wages during his negotiations at the club. However, before Seth Johnson got chance to discuss the offer with his agent, then Leeds United chairman Peter Ridsdale came in stating "we can offer you 37 (thirty seven thousand pound) a week, we can't go any higher than that". Seth Johnson was restricted to only 54 appearances in his 5 seasons at the club, costing the then money stricken club over £10 million in wages, on top of the £7 million transfer fee which Leeds United paid Derby County to bring him to the club. Seth Johnson retired from professional football at the age of 28.
Johnson stated that his mindset was to become a starter for Leeds United after having such a good start however he "didn't realise how difficult is actually is". Johnson was fighting for a starting berth alongside Mark Viduka, Robbie Fowler, Alan Smith and Robbie Keane. After loan spells at Hull City, Blackpool, Sunderland, Doncaster and Barnsley, Johnson left the club on a permanent deal to join Darlington. Johnson spent two seasons at the club before leaving to join Hereford United. After a disappointing spell at Hereford, the striker spent time at a number of Non-League clubs before retiring from football in 2014 after a short spell with Hinkley.
To listen to the full Undr The Cosh podcast with Simon Johnson, you will need to sign up to the Undr The Cosh patreon. Johnson opens up on his footballing career, most notably his tenure while Kevin Blackwell was Leeds United manager. To listen to the excellent Undr The Cosh podcast, please click on the embedded Spotify link below to listen to their most recent football podcast.
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