Dominic Matteo’s goal against AC Milan in the Champions League has become part of Leeds’ folklore and Eirik Bakke has revealed how it happened
Eirik Bakke has revealed how a night on the town was behind Dominic Matteo’s famous Champions League goal in the San Siro.
Boss David O’Leary has not unimpressed when he heard about their night out four days before they were due to play AC Milan and gave Bakke and Matteo a dressing down in the team hotel.
Matteo scored a goal that night, which has entered Leeds folklore, as the Whites earned a 1-1 draw to help them progress to the next group stage of the Champions League.
And Bakke joked he scored it because they all had such a great night out.
“When you win games, you go out and celebrate with the boys,” said the former Leeds midfielder. “It’s different now of course.
“We were together off the pitch and if we won, we went out. That’s the way it was.
“It was in the hotel in Milan where he [O’Leary] took me and Dominic aside. Maybe if Dominic hadn’t gone out that night, he wouldn’t have scored!”
Leeds composed a song in honour of Matteo’s effort and still sing about him scoring a “f*****g great goal in the San Siro”.
Bakke, 44, who played at Leeds from 1999 to 2006, claims O’Leary’s great side was like Marcelo Bielsa’s team now.
“I think they’re very similar,” he told the Official Leeds United Podcast. “The way Bielsa likes to play is like the team I came to, a lot of energy, a lot of pace.
“We had Harry Kewell, Raphinha now is a similar type of player. Today they have Patrick Bamford, we had Mark Viduka, you have Kalvin Phillips, we had David Batty, you have energy in the team.
“The team then and now play attacking football, which is what the fans want to see.
“I would love to play under Bielsa, that type of high-pressing game. They are not easy to play against and our team was not easy to play against. We were rough, tough and hard.”
Bakke was devastated when that side was broken up from 2002 onwards because of what he calls “stupid, stupid” spending by then chairman Peter Ridsdale and the board.
Bakke eventually had to leave in 2006 against his wishes because the club could not afford his wages in the Championship.
“It happened so quickly,” said the former Norway midfielder.
“The hardest thing was when all the big boys left, all the best players, they kept selling them on, Rio Ferdinand went.
“We didn’t qualify for the Champions League and then we were building it down.
“You never think about how bad it can go, but eventually the club went down because of the spending, the money, it was stupid, stupid.
“It was tough to see that happen to the club, especially for the fans, seeing the people who work at the club having to go as well. All the staff working there in the laundry, doing the food. It was tough times.
“It was a big club and it was suddenly ripped apart and it’s taken 16 years to come back.”
Bakke, who has managed his hometown club Sogndal for the last seven years, is delighted to see Leeds back in the Premier League under Marcelo Bielsa and is confident they will soon recover from their poor start.
“Everybody has to stick with the team,” he said. “When the injured players come back, Leeds are going to fly up the league.
“When they have their full team back, no team can stop them.”