Singing with fans in San Siro stands out as a highlight
We had some wonderful times as a team, particularly during the first 18 months after I had signed from Liverpool in August, 2000.
I have some great memories of great games, probably none more so than the night we went to the San Siro and held AC Milan to a 1-1 draw, a result that meant we went through to the second group stage of the Champions League at the expense of Barcelona.
I was fortunate enough to score our goal in Italy but what really stands out from such a memorable night is the celebrations that followed the final whistle.
About 7,000 Leeds fans had made the trip to Italy and were being held in the ground by the police so the streets outside could be cleared. After showering and changing, we were then asked to go out and wave to the fans.
The lads didn’t need asking twice as we all wanted the celebrations to go on all night – which, as it turned out, is exactly what happened!
By the time I wandered out, quite a few of the boys were already out there and having a great time.
Suddenly, a chant of ‘Leeds team, give us a song’ began. Everyone looked at each other, wondering who was going to step forward.
Unsurprisingly, Gary Kelly was the one.
After being cheered by the fans, he then gestured for everyone to be quiet.
Suddenly, the San Siro fell silent and I was thinking, ‘What is he going to do now?’ Quick as a flash, Kells started singing, ‘Let’s go ******* mental’ while bouncing up and down on the spot.
The fans didn’t need a second invitation and, within a couple of seconds, all 7,000 of them were copying Kells. It was an amazing sight.
All the lads joined in and everyone was loving it.
As the noise died down, Kells again asked for quiet before putting his tracksuit top down on the pitch and sitting on it.
Again, I was wondering what Kells was up to but then he started singing, ‘Sit down if you hate Man U’.
Again, every single fan followed his lead. By now, quite a few of the lads wanted to have a go.
Smithy joined in, as did chairman Peter Ridsdale.
It was brilliant and something that I can’t imagine would have happened with any other team and any other set of supporters. I later found out that BBC Radio Five Live commentator Alan Green had described the scenes as the greatest example of fan-player bonding he had ever seen and I have to agree.
The party continued back at our hotel as we all headed straight for the bar.
The boys, the chairman, the staff…everyone was there celebrating. I didn’t want the night to end, so even after the rest had sloped off to bed, I decided to get myself a couple of bottles of wine.
It was about 6am by now. Unfortunately for me, as I walked towards the lift, who should be coming the other way but Peter Ridsdale.
We were all staying another night as a reward for getting through to the next stage but the chairman had an early flight to catch so was on his way to the airport.
He just looked at me, laughed and walked on without saying a word.
Mind, Peter was so happy at Leeds qualifying for the next group stage that he probably wanted to high-five me – but couldn’t as my hands were full. It was a funny end to an unforgettable night.