Scott Sellars can be seen as one of those that got away. He was one of a host of players brought into the Leeds United team in the mid 1980’s who would end up being sold on to enjoy better days away from Elland Road, although he would briefly return under Howard Wilkinson.
His best days for Leeds were before my time, making his debut in a 0-0 draw at the end of the 1982-83 season at Shrewsbury. Along with John Sheridan and Neil Aspin he was the first of the youngsters that were brought in by Eddie Gray as United made the tough transition to life in the second tier of English football.
Sellars had made his debut before turning professional, signing his first contract in the summer of 1983. With United’s more experienced players struggling in the league, Eddie Gray decided to go with youth around Christmas time introducing Sellars into the team in a 2-1 home defeat to Huddersfield on Boxing Day 1983. Scoring his first goal in a 4-1 win over Middlesbrough, he became a fixture in the side for the remainder of the campaign and with the likes of Denis Irwin, Tommy Wright and Andy Linighan also coming to the fore, Leeds improved with just six defeats in their last 26 games.
The 1984/85 season started with Leeds continuing their fine form with four straight wins to start the season. Sellars scored in the 5th game but Leeds fell 2-1 at Cardiff and the Whites promptly lost their next two games as well. As was to be expected with a young side, consistency was difficult to achieve, and Leeds form fluctuated wildly, losing at Oxford 5-2 before winning at home to Wimbledon by the same score line the week after.
Sellars shone in a 2-0 defeat to the holders Everton in the FA Cup, a game which was shown live on the BBC. He hit a rich vein of form at the end of the season scoring in three consecutive games, but was struggling with the physical aspects of the game. Most of his appearances came on the left flank, away from the hustle and bustle of the centre of the park. When Gray was sacked in October 1985, replaced by Billy Bremner, Sellars disappeared from the team. As Bremner looked to build his own team, Sellars asked for a transfer and was sold to Blackburn Rovers for just £20,000
At Blackburn, Sellars would develop into one of the best young talents in the game. He was capped for the England U-21’s and won the Full Members Cup in 1987. When Jack Walker came along to revolutionise Blackburn in 1991, Sellars was a key member of Kenny Dalglish’s team which won promotion to the top flight. However he would not be at Ewood Park for the start of the first ever Premier League campaign.
Despite Leeds United’s championship winning midfield of 1992 being recognised as the best in the country, it was that area which Howard Wilkinson chose to strengthen that summer. Whilst the signing of David Rocastle was seen as a strange one, although he was expected to replace an aging Gordon Strachan, even more mysterious was the move for Sellars. Six years after leaving the club for a pittance, Howard Wilkinson splashed out £900K to bring the 26 year old back to Elland Road. With Gary Speed in imperious form on the left hand side, Sellars struggled to make an impact. When he did come into the side he was played as a full-back. However with his history of being less than physical, he was understandably poor in those positions, far too lightweight to impose himself on his opponent. It was an unhappy return and after just seven appearances was shipped out to another team in the second division on the rise.
Kevin Keegan paid £700K to take him to Newcastle United in March 1993 and he helped the Magpies to promotion. He was an integral part of the team as they cemented their place in the top flight, before a cartilage injury severely curtailed his career, the injury seeing Keegan purchase David Ginola.
Sellars moved on to Bolton where he spent four years, before his career began to wind down. Moves to Huddersfield, Aarhus in Denmark and Mansfield followed before he ended his career at non-league Kettering.
Currently coaching the Manchester City Under 18’s, Sellars was undoubtedly one of the most talented players to pass through the club in the dark days of the 1980’s. It’s unfortunate that he seems to have played his best football away from Elland Road.