A huge 'thank you' for Sheffield United promotion hero Leon Clarke as striker prepares to leave the Lane

At the end of their game against Southampton, which brought down the curtain on what has been a superb Premier League season for Sheffield United, Chris Wilder gathered his players in a circle on the pitch at St Mary’s and spoke a few words.

By James Shield
Sunday, 26th July 2020, 8:30 pm
Leon Clarke played what is likely to have been hi final game for Sheffield United when he came off the bench against Southampton. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
Leon Clarke played what is likely to have been hi final game for Sheffield United when he came off the bench against Southampton. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Revealing his pride at their performances en route to a ninth placed finish after only being promoted last term, the manager then turned the conversation towards Leon Clarke who after being summoned from the bench during the closing stages of the contest had just made his 95th and probably final appearance in a United jersey.

“I thanked Leon at the end, he’s been here four years,” Wilder said. “We took him from Bury for something like £100,000 and there were a few eyebrows raised when we did that. But he’s proved his worth. More than proved his worth in fact. And Leon has been responsible for helping us get into the position that we find ourselves in now.”

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Clarke, aged 35, appears destined to leave this summer as Wilder begins the process of reshaping his squad ahead of the forthcoming campaign - which is scheduled to begin in September.

The centre-forward, who also counts Sheffield Wednesday among his long list of former clubs, was a member of the teams which have won promotion from both League One and the Championship since Wilder’s appointment in 2016 - scoring 32 goals in the process.

He built up a great partnership with Billy Sharp during that campaign and remained pivotal in the first season in the Championship before the arrival of David McGoldrick saw fewer opportunities for Clarke.

“Leon’s done brilliantly for me,” Wilder said. “He’s done everything and more we could ever have asked of him. So I just wanted to thank him for that and I also thanked the lads as a whole for giving me absolutely everything and I also thanked the staff for giving me everything and preparing them so well.”