Liverpool’s James Milner has spoken about his time at former club Leeds United and since revealed whether he would rejoin them.
It’s been 15 years since the Reds player left his boyhood club, where he came through the club’s academy in 1996 before making his first team debut at 16.
After 48 appearances and five goals for Leeds between 2002 and 2004, as well as a loan spell at Swindon, he was bought by Newcastle United, where he played 94 games, scored six goals and won the UEFA Intertoto Cup.
He went to Aston Villa on loan between 2005 and 2006 and returned to Villa Park for a permanent move in 2008, played 73, scored 11, was a League Cup runner-up in 2010.
Leeds United FC
James Milner pic.twitter.com/PRLczOrPEE
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His performances saw him called up to the England under 21 team, he made a record 46 appearances, playing at the 2007 and 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Championships. He went on to play 61 games for the full English national team, scoring once against Moldova. He was selected for the 2010 and 2014 World Cup squads, as well as the 2012 and 2016 UEFA European Championships. Milner retired from international football in 2016.
He left Aston Villa in 2010, and headed for Manchester City in a deal reported to be worth around £26 million, including a player exchange of Stephen Ireland. Over five years at City, he ended up playing 147 matches and scored 13 times as well as won the Premier League three times (2011–12, 2013–14), the FA Cup once (2010–11; runner-up: 2012–13), the League Cup once (2013–14) and Community Shield (2012).
On 4 June 2015, Milner agreed to join Liverpool on a free transfer from Manchester City. he became just the 13th player (and the 2nd youngest after former Aston Villa, Man City and England teammate Gareth Barry) in Premier League history to reach 500 appearances, during a 4-0 win at Bournemouth. In his time at Liverpool, he’s made 136 appearances, scored 18 goals and won the Champions League in 2018–19; runner-up: 2017–18), the Super Cup in 2019, and was a League Cup and Europa League runner-up in the 2015–16 season.
In his new book named ‘Ask a Footballer: My Guide to Kicking a Ball About’, Milner says HE WOULD rejoin Leeds.
When asked about a return to the club in a Q&A, he said: “I get asked this all the time. Any time I bump into a Leeds fan – or even my mates back home – it’s always, ‘When are you coming back? When are you coming home?’
“It’s a really hard question to answer because it’s all totally hypothetical. There has never been a decision for me to make.
“They’ve never come in for me in the past and they might not do so in future. I’m playing for a great team who have just won the Champions League.
“Am I happy at Liverpool? Absolutely. About Leeds, all I can really say is that I still love the club and I still love the fans.
“It’s a regret that I didn’t play for Leeds longer. I didn’t want to leave and I felt like I was only really getting started at the club, but it was an unfortunate time for me to be coming through at Leeds.
“They had been in the Champions League semi-final in 2001, but by the time I made my debut 18 months later, a lot of players had been sold and the club was going into a decline.
“I’ll never forget how brilliant the fans were with us the day we were relegated in 2004, after what was a pretty horrible couple of years for Leeds, and they’ve been fantastic throughout the 15 years since, standing by the team through thick and thin.
“When I see the atmosphere at Elland Road and I hear the crowd, it makes me proud.
“The fan relationship changes when you’re a professional player and you move on to different clubs, but I still follow them and look out for their scores every weekend.
“Watching Take Us Home, you get a real feeling for how desperate everyone is for the club to get back to the Premier League, where it belongs.
“To go back and play for my hometown club again would be amazing in so many different ways.
“But at the same time, they say ‘Never go back,’ don’t they? What happens if you go back and it isn’t the fairy-tale finish? Would it be the right thing for me? Would it be the right thing for them?
“There would be so many things to weigh up – not just for myself or my family, but for Leeds.
“If I was being released by another club, would they want me? It would be pointless for them and for me if I wasn’t needed at the time and it was just some kind of nostalgia trip.
“You can probably tell from what I’m saying that I love the club, but I also love playing for Liverpool and I want to play at the highest level for as long as I can.
“If my time at Liverpool came to an end and I was going to go somewhere else and Leeds were one of the clubs that were interested in me, then that would be a very exciting option for all the reasons I mention.
“But they might not be interested. I might look abroad. Something else could crop up that I’ve never even thought of. It is a nice idea, but I can’t say what the future will hold.”
Milner’s new book ‘Ask A Footballer’ has been on sale since the 31st of October 2019.Like what the Fan Banter have on offer? Sign up for more Championship notifications!