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Ken Leek, who died on 19 November, 2007, was a Welsh international fondly remembered by Birmingham City fans for scoring two goals in a League Cup Final victory over bitter rivals Aston Villa.He also had long spells with Northampton Town, Leicester City and Bradford City. He won 13 caps and scored five goals for Wales and was a member of the 1958 World Cup squad.Kenneth Leek was born on 26 July, 1935, in Ynysybwl, South Wales. He lived next door to Birmingham and Wales’ Don Dearson.Mr Leek didn’t begin playing football until 14, having been educated at rugby-playing schools. His progress was further hampered by two years of national service.Nevertheless , by the age of 17 he had signed for Northampton as an apprentice forward and quickly made his way into the first team. He played for the Cobblers for six years, scoring 27 goals in 71 league appearances.He joined Leicester in 1958, scoring on his debut against Everton. During his prolific time at Filbert Street – he had an impressive record of 43 goals in 111 appearances – he got his first call-up to the Wales squad and was part of the squad that travelled to Sweden for Wales’ only World Cup appearance.In 1961 he was controversially dropped by Leicester manager Matt Gillies in favour of the young Hugh McIlmoyle from the 1961 FA Cup Final line-up, despite scoring in every round. Leicester lost the match 2-0 to Tottenham.Such was his disappointment, he left the club shortly afterwards, having a brief, unfulfilling spell at Newcastle (he was also loaned out to Canadian side Montreal Concordia) before signing for Birmingham City.During his three-year career at St. Andrew’s, Mr Leek made 104 appearances and scored an impressive 49 goals. Two of them were against Aston Villa in the first leg of the 1963 League Cup Final, helping the Blues to a 3-1 lead going into the away leg.“It was important that we had a good lead to take into the second leg,” Mr Leek said later. “We played really well in that first game and in fact we could have won by a lot more than we did. It was fantastic to lift the trophy at Villa Park.”He had another brief spell with Northampton, helping them get promotion, before seeing out the remaining three years of his career at Bradford where he netted 25 times in just under 100 league games.After retiring from football in 1968 he managed in Welsh non-League football and then took a job in Daventry with Ford, until his retirement.Tributes were paid to him by former Leicester team-mate Gordon Banks who said: “He was a terrific player - a great centre forward. He was very elusive and caused a lot of problems for centre halves.“I will never forget the Spurs centre half, when Ken didn't play in the FA Cup Final in 1961, who said: ‘I couldn't believe my luck when the manager left him out of the final. He was the one centre forward who always gave me trouble and nearly always scored against us.’ That's how highly he was regarded.“He was a great lad, a great character. He had lots of laughs and jokes. They were happy times and the news is very sad to hear.”
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Published in: Online.
Published from: November 19, 2007.
Region: National
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