By Alex Stevens
Alan Smith has revealed that he waived a transfer payment from Leeds to join Manchester United.
The former Elland Road striker played 172 games for his boyhood club before the Yorkshire giants suffered financial meltdown.
With Leeds having just been relegated from the Premier League, Smith was offloaded to United for £7million in 2004.
The 35-year-old converted midfielder, who now plays for for League Two outfit Notts County, admitted he rejected the possibility of a big pay day from the club who brought him through the ranks.
Responding to a question about rumours he had waived a payment, Smith told Four Four Two: “As for waiving the transfer fee – I had five years left on my contract. I was entitled to money, but the last thing I wanted was to see Leeds go bankrupt.
“I’ve never spoken about it because I don’t want to speak badly about my club. I’ve been back and most people were pleasant with me.”
Smith also revealed to Four Four Two that he did not want to quit Leeds 12 years ago at a time when he was an England international playing at the club he had supported.
“I would probably never have left if we hadn’t gone down, but Leeds were trying to sell me to the highest bidder,” he said.
“As for the criticism, I’d have been a fool if I thought that wouldn’t happen. I’d been at the club when Eric [Cantona] left to go to Old Trafford.
“I was ball boy the day he came back and scored at the [Elland Road] Kop and saw the feelings that day.
“I spoke to Sir Alex and he said: ‘I never thought you’d be brave enough to make that decision.’
“But the Leeds I left wasn’t the Leeds I knew. There were people in charge of the club who I didn’t like. I went to meetings and saw some bizarre things.
“I had the chance to go from a team who’d been relegated to the champions. Arguably the greatest club manager ever wanted me. How could I turn that down?”
In other Leeds transfer news, a forward has signed for Nottingham Forest after quitting Leeds.