1998-1999 – “UEFA Cup” home shirt – Harte 20

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The Shirt

This style of shirt is one of the rarest in Leeds’ recent history. Specially made for Leeds’ 1998/99 UEFA Cup campaign it was only worn in 4 games; home and away against Portuguese side CS Maritimo and Italian giants Roma.

Manufactured by Puma the shirt features computer manufacturer Packard Bell as the sponsor. Unfortunately the original design of the shirt, with puma logos running down each sleeve, did not meet with UEFA’s European Competition kit regulations so a new bespoke shirt was required.

The regulations are quite restrictive, and are very particular about manufacturer logos and sponsors. Only one manufacturer logo is permitted per shirt so the puma emblazoned sleeve panes were replaced with all white versions. The puma logo on the chest was also lowered by 1cm to meet with UEFA’s restrictions.

The shirt was worn against CS Maritimo at Elland Road on Tuesday 15th September 1998. It is unwashed and was obtained directly from the Portuguese player it was swapped with on the night.

The Season

The 1998/99 season started in turbulent fashion with George Graham walking out on the club in October. Martin O’Neill was favourite to take over but turned his back on Leeds to stay with Leicester City. Leeds found the replacement closer to home in the form of former Assistant Manager, David O’Leary.

O’Leary was keen to put his trust in youth and players like Paul Robinson, Stephen McPhail, Jonathon Woodgate and Alan Smith emerged as major talents. O’Leary’s major signing came in December when one of Leeds’ favourite sons, David Batty, returned to the club much to the fan’s delight.

Having qualified for the UEFA Cup in the previous season Leeds made it to the second round beating Portuguese side Maritimo before losing out to Italian giants Roma in the second round.

In the league Leeds had a great season under O’Leary, with Jimmy Flloyd Hasselbaink scoring 18 goals, and qualified for Europe again finishing in 4th place, Leeds’ highest finish since winning the league in 1991/92.

The Player

This shirt was worn by Leeds left back Ian Harte. Harte joined Leeds as a youngster and made his senior debut as a 19 year old in 1996.

Harte became a first team regular playing along side his uncle, Gary Kelly. Doubts were raised about Harte’s future with Leeds when Dominic Matteo signed from Liverpool, but Harte kept his place and Matteo switched to a centre half role.

As a set piece specialist with a sweet left foot, Harte scored some great goals during his time at Leeds – none more important than a 25-yard beauty against Arsenal which helped the club avoid relegation from the Premiership. He made 212 appearances for the club, scoring 28 goals, before making a move to Spanish side Lavente amidst Leeds’ financial crisis in 2004.

Harte is number 68 in the 100 Greatest Leeds Players list.