Jermaine Beckford’s long road from west London to Leeds' FA Cup hero

04 January 2010 08:01
When he was a boy, joining up with Walpole Wanderers a youth team in London Jermaine Beckford was a long way from becoming the FA Cup hero who humiliated Manchester United.

Beckford, who was born in Ealing, west London, joined his local club just a few miles away to the north-west of the city and was spotted by Chelsea but never made the grade. So the obscurity of Wealdstone awaited him and while playing for them he worked for the RAC.

He then had a trial with Championship side Crystal Palace and on March 9 2006, he played for the reserves against Arsenal in front of a bevy of scouts from different clubs.

Four days later, Leeds came in for him with a bid. This was soon accepted by the Wealdstone board and he joined Leeds for £45,000.

Potential: Beckford's registration card at the age of 14

Beckford had loan spells at Carlisle and Scunthorpe before establishing himself at Leeds, but it hasn't always been plain sailing at Elland Road.

A missed penalty in a play-off setback against Millwall last May and three fluffed chances in his team's unfortunate Carling Cup defeat to Liverpool in September are moments that the 26-year-old's impressive goal-scoring record disguises.

At Old Trafford, though, Beckford produced when it really mattered.

Out of contract at Elland Road this summer and already the subject of firm interest from Newcastle, Beckford would appear reluctant to commit himself to Simon Grayson's long-term masterplan in West Yorkshire.

On yesterday's evidence, to lose him in the current transfer window could be problematic, to say the least. 'We have stressed there will be three scenarios with Jermaine,' said Leeds manager Grayson last night.

'He either signs a new contract, he leaves at the end of the season or we sell him now and get some money which we think is too good an opportunity to turn down.

The man of the moment: Beckford hails his match-winning strike

'But we have made a decent amount of money today and got back on an even keel on the financial front. My best-case scenario is that Jermaine signs a new contract or gets us the goals to earn promotion and then leaves.'

Leeds chairman Ken Bates wasn't at Old Trafford yesterday, but he will have seen enough of Beckford to know how important he is. He also showed for the 20th time this season that he knows how to score.

Grayson added: 'We knew there would be talk about him as soon as the window opened. But strikers are a precious commodity and we won't be letting him go on the cheap.'

Beckford has only been a full-time professional for three seasons. This would suggest, were somebody to buy him, he still has untapped promise. His journey has some way to go yet.

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Source: Daily_Mail