Keith Edwards, who until Saturday was the last Sheffield United player to score four goals at Bramall Lane, described the finishes which saw Leon Clarke achieve the same feat during the win over Hull City as “better than my own.”
Edwards, the club’s legendary centre-forward, congratulated Clarke on his milestone within minutes of the final whistle before comparing the quality of the 32-year-old’s efforts to those he claimed against Gillingham nearly three-and-a-half decades ago.
“The variety of the goals Leon scored were exceptional,” Edwards told The Star. “And for that, I think they were better than my own. The technical strength he showed to put the first three away was superb and, if there was ever any doubt, he’s just proved out there was a fine player he is.
“I can speak from experience when I say Leon will never forget that moment. When you get a hat-trick, it’s something. When you get four, it just makes it that little bit more special.”
United were trailing 1-0 when Clarke, who has now hit the target eight times this season, opened his account with a first time shot at the near post.
He was on target again after combining with Mark Duffy before converting Billy Sharp’s cross. Although Clarke later admitted good fortune played a part in his fourth - “I tried to play Brooksy (David Brooks) through and, I’m not sure how, the ball came back” - Edwards added: “There are days when, as a striker, you just feel you’re going to get goals. Leon’s just had one of those days.
“But overall, I’ve never seen him play as well as this and I’ve seen him at quite a few clubs in his career. Logically, great credit for that has got to go to (manager) Chris Wilder and his assistant Alan Knill.
“Getting the best out of your players, putting them in the right situations to perform, is all part of good management and they are certainly doing that.
“The consistency Leon is showing is the key to that. Clearly, he is being given the platform to perform and do what he’s good at.”
Edwards’ own four goal haul came on the opening day of the 1983/84 season which saw United go on to gain promotion from the old Division Three.
With Wilder’s side entering the latest international break second in the Championship table, Edwards said: “Hopefully it’s a good omen and we can go on to do exactly the same thing again. It would be brilliant if we did.”