Rio Ferdinand was set to become the world’s most expensive defender when Leeds’ £18million bid was finally accepted by West Ham on this day in 2000.
Ferdinand, then 22, rubber-stamped the deal a few days later when he signed a five-and-a-half-year contract.
He was paraded in front of the Leeds fans at Elland Road before their home game against Arsenal on November 26.
The deal shattered the previous world record for a defender of £13m paid by Roma for Argentina’s Walter Samuel. It was also a British record, eclipsing the £15m paid for Alan Shearer and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.
Ferdinand made his Leeds debut on December 2 at Leicester and it was one to forget as David O’Leary’s team found themselves 3-0 down after just half-an-hour, eventually losing 3-1.
It was the first of 53 Premier League appearances Ferdinand made during his 18 months at Elland Road and he was Leeds’ captain in both legs of their Champions League semi-final against Valencia in 2001.
Ferdinand later revealed during his work as a pundit for BT Sport that his time spent at Leeds was the “most enjoyable” of his playing career.
In the summer of 2002, Ferdinand became Britain’s most expensive player for a second time after a high-profile move to Leeds’ arch-rivals Manchester United for £30m.
At Old Trafford under Sir Alex Ferguson, Ferdinand established himself as one of the world’s outstanding defenders.
He won 10 major trophies with Ferguson’s side, including six Premier League titles and a Champions League, and made a total of 81 appearances for his country.