Leeds United Playing Squad for the relegation 2003-04 Season
David Batty Midfield
Squad Number: 23
International: England full & U-21
David Batty, a Leeds lad, debuted at 18 in the old second division. In 250 appearances under Howard Wikinson he lifted the Second Division title and then the last ever First Division Championship in 1991-92. By then an England regular, Leeds fans were gutted when he was sold, basically to fund he new East stand; in the same way, that the brilliant John Charles was sold to Juventus in the 50s to pay for the rebuilding of the fire-damaged West Stand, criminally uninsured by incompetent Leeds Directors. (Have Leeds United ever had Directors that were actually competent to do the damn job?).
After Blackburn Rovers he joined Newcastle United, who seem to have developed a penchant over the last ten years for signing Leeds Utd cast-offs (Speed, Bowyer, Woodgate etc.). Whilst a Newcatle Utd. player Batty missed his penalty in the shoot-out vs Argentina in the 1998 World Cup. Afterwards it became clear he'd never taken a penalty before, but he stepped forward when others shrank back, typical Batty.
David Batty became David O'Leary's first signing in December 1998, when the prodigal son returned to Elland Road from Newcastle in a deal worth £4.4million.
David Batty was playing the best football of his career when he sustained a calf injury against Bradford City, an injury that was to rule him out for the rest of the season. But his presence in the midfield alongside the youth of Bowyer, Bakke, McPhail and Kewell helped Leeds to the top of the Premiership and through the in the early rounds of the UEFA Cup.
The injury wouldn't clear up, and it was only later that it was diagnosed that the medication he was using (to counter a heart problem that arose from his rib injury picked up in his first game back as a Leeds player), was preventing his recovery. After making his comeback as a substitute against Sunderland in December 2000, Batts went on to form a devastating partnership with Olivier Dacourt in the heart of the Leeds midfield and was outstanding in the Champions League and United's second half surge up the Premiership.
However, after the departure of O'Leary, with whom he fell out, Batty found himself out of favour with new boss Terry Venables and dopey erstwhile Chairman, Peter Ridsdale. He didn't play a game in the 2002-03 season despite a fans' campaign to bring him back. A bout of tendonitis saved Venables from having to make a decision. When Reid was the temporary manager he said Batty could play if fit enough but he didn't make an appearance.
After the signing of Morris, Olembe and Sahko and with a fit-again Johnson it remains to be seen how many times Batty turns out in his final season with Leeds, but be sure when he runs out on the pitch he'll get a great reception.4th Sept, 2003
UPDATE 22nd February: Batty faced the wrath of Leeds fans for the first time when as PFA rep he was seen as a ring-leader when the highly paid Leeds squad dragged their feet in agreeing to a 25% wage deferral in Jan 2004. The deferral was needed to help Leeds raise £5m to avoid administraion. This site particularly scathing of the first-team squad. Though the squad later agreed and Batty issued a denial of being a ring-leader unfortunately his image has been permanently damaged in the eyes of many fans. In Feb 2004, caretaker manager Eddie Gray told David Batty he would not play again for Leeds this season. As his contract expires in the summer it is now clear that he has played his last game for Leeds United. It is a shame it ended on such a sour note.