By Harry Sykes
Mirco Antenucci has claimed that he would still be at Leeds had Massimo Cellino not prevented him from triggering a clause in his Leeds contract that would have guaranteed an extension.
The Italian striker delivered the bombshell in an interview with Italian site Calcio Mercato that controversial Leeds owner Cellino forced the manager not to select him at the end of the 2015-15 season.
Antenucci had a clause in the two-year contract he signed upon his arrival in 2014 that he would automatically get a new deal if he scored 12 goals in a season.
The forward had 10 goals by mid-April in his first season and was then bizarrely omitted from the squad by Neil Redfearn for the final three matches of the campaign.
Antenucci, who stayed for a second season, in which he scored a further nine goals, before leaving last summer, explained that Redfearn was under orders from Cellino.
It left a bitter taste for the Italian, now 32, as he reflected on a mixed two years at the Championship big hitters.
“My first child was born there, Leeds is a young city that offers so much. Almost all positive aspects, except Cellino.
“Out of the blue, the first year I had a clause to get 12 goals my contract would be renewed, I reached 10 goals and I did not play. Not only in Italy these things happen, but also in England, even if done by an Italian.
“Beyond that, I take on the affection of the fans. The last day, when I went around the pitch, the crowd sang just for me. These things never forget.”
During Antenucci’s at Leeds, the club secured finishes of 13th and 15th, a far cry from their performances this season, in which Garry Monk has steered them to fourth in the table and with genuine promotion ambitions.
The centre-forward is now at Serie B club SPAL after joining on a free transfer last summer and has continued to score goals, netting 14 times from 28 matches in all competitions.
In other Leeds transfer news, the club have sealed an out-of-window midfielder transfer.