sport news Lee Chapman reminisces about 'the highlight of his career' as Leeds won the ...

sport news Lee Chapman reminisces about 'the highlight of his career' as Leeds won the ...
sport news Lee Chapman reminisces about 'the highlight of his career' as Leeds won the ...

Lee Chapman spent this week sunning himself in Ibiza with Leslie Ash, his wife of 33 years, and reflecting on a career which made him one of English football's most prolific goalscorers.

The 61-year-old, who played for over a dozen clubs, found the net 179 times in English football's top flight – more than Thierry Henry, Les Ferdinand, Ian Wright, Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen and Gary Lineker.

An uncompromising, old-fashioned centre forward, Chapman's goals fuelled Leeds United's First Division title glory in 1992 and, while he represented England at Under-21 and B team level, a senior cap eluded him.

Lee Chapman is currently sunning himself in Ibiza with his wife of 33 years, Leslie

Lee Chapman is currently sunning himself in Ibiza with his wife of 33 years, Leslie 

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British football underwent a seismic transformation in the early 1990s and Ash – then a star of popular sit-com Men Behaving Badly – and Chapman became the original Posh and Becks.

It wasn't all glitz and glamour, though, as Chapman recalls: 'Leslie and I met at a party in London in 1986 and the paparazzi started following us then.

'But it grew particularly intense when we won the title at Leeds in 1992, at a time when football was changing was beyond all recognition with the Premier League about to kick off.

'All the tabloids would follow us everywhere and we couldn't work out how they always knew where we were – it turned out they put trackers on our car.

'They were getting big money for the pictures and it was difficult to deal with at the time.'

Ash also fought a near-fatal superbug infection which she contracted while in hospital.

Chapman, and the couple's sons Joe and Max, were warned she may not survive.

'It was a pretty horrific period because Leslie was extremely ill,' Chapman recalls.

This week, though, the couple were lapping it up on the Balearic Isle, having recently become grandparents for the first time.

Chapman (top left) scored 16 goals to help fire Leeds to the 1991-92 First Division title

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Chapman (top left) scored 16 goals to help fire Leeds to the 1991-92 First Division title

'Joe's wife had a baby boy, Lucas, and becoming a granddad has been amazing,' Chapman says with a huge smile.

'Leslie has recovered from her illness and her acting career is taking off again now.

'We've had our ups and downs but have been together for 35 years now and married for 33. I think that's an achievement in itself.'

Chapman, whose father Roy played professionally but died of a heart attack aged just 49 in March 1983, was born, fittingly, in Scorer Street in Lincoln.

Chapman junior made his name at Stoke City before ill-fated moves to Arsenal and Sunderland.

In August 1984, however, a switch to Sheffield Wednesday under Howard Wilkinson ignited his career.

Chapman (top left) enjoyed a whirlwind few months after arriving at Nottingham Forest

Chapman (top left) enjoyed a whirlwind few months after arriving at Nottingham Forest

After four prolific seasons with the Owls, and a brief spell in France, Chapman was signed for Nottingham Forest by Brian Clough.

'Within a few months, we won the League Cup, the Simod Cup and finished third in the league,' says Chapman.

'The contrast between Howard and Cloughie could not have been greater.

'Brian didn't really focus on training and it was all about motivation on a matchday.

'He was brilliant at that and he ruled by fear. He would do things you couldn't possibly get away with nowadays.

'Howard was meticulous and on a Friday you would practise set-pieces relentlessly, attacking and defending.

Chapman's time at Leeds saw him play alongside Gary Speed and Gordon Strachan (pictured)

Chapman's time at Leeds saw him play alongside Gary Speed and Gordon Strachan (pictured)

'We were ultra-prepared and worked on formation a lot too.

'Cloughie was off the cuff but Howard would study videos of our opponents in incredible detail

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