How good is Jermaine Beckford?

Leeds striker is the surprise star of this year's FA Cup – and tonight he can cement his reputation against Spurs. Phil Shaw on what makes him tick

Trainee at Stamford Bridge

Born in Ealing, west London, and reputedly supported Queen's Park Rangers as a boy. Signed by Chelsea as a trainee and was a contemporary of Carlton Cole, but was released at 19. Began playing part-time for Wealdstone in the Ryman League where his modest form initially led them to loan him to Uxbridge. He has known hard times. "I've had £40 to last the month and I was only in the second week," he recalls on the fan website "I've had to scrimp and scrape. I've worked for the RAC [fitting tyres], in sports shops, in supermarkets, in an office, fitting windscreens, all sorts."

Early promise

Began scoring prolifically for Wealdstone, attracting an offer of a trial from Crystal Palace, who played him against Arsenal reserves. This forced the hand of Leeds' then manager Kevin Blackwell, who paid £45,000 to sign him in 2006. "I always knew it would be a tough period of my life," he later told the Leeds programme. "I'd jumped up six leagues and the quality was a totally different level. The pace was quicker, the players more aware. I tried to embrace it and wait for my chance."

Goal of the season

Early in 2007, Leeds' new manager Dennis Wise farmed him out to Scunthorpe on loan. He scored eight goals to help Nigel Adkins' side gain promotion, including the Football League's Goal of the Season for League One. Adkins tried to buy him during the summer but Leeds having passed Scunthorpe on the way down, brought him back to Elland Road.

Scoring touch

Statistically speaking, his 78 goals in 129 appearances for Leeds – 24 of them already this season – put him in the company of celebrated forwards such as the late John Charles, Peter Lorimer, Mick Jones and Lee Chapman, albeit at a lower level. Last season he netted 34 times in 37 appearances, five of which came as substitute, which was the fourth highest aggregate in Leeds' 91-year history and only the sixth occasion one of their players had passed the 30 mark.

The complete package?

Quick off the mark and adept at timing his runs, as he showed before converting Jonathan Howson's long pass for the winner at Manchester United in the FA Cup third round. Can finish with either foot, and at 6ft 2in, is strong in the air. Lack of goals in Leeds' play-off final defeat to Doncaster at Wembley (2008), a missed penalty against Millwall in last year's semi-final and chances spurned against Liverpool in the Carling Cup led many to argue that he did not have the composure to score in big games. Three goals at Old Trafford and White Hart Lane, the last a nerveless stoppage-time spot-kick to take the fourth-round tie to tonight's replay at Elland Road, seem to have answered the critics.

Doubts over his attitude

There have been question marks over his disciplinary record and team ethic. Last season he was sent off twice, once for elbowing Millwall keeper David Forde, which resulted in a three-game ban for violent conduct. This season he has picked up just three bookings. Submitting a transfer request before an FA Cup tie at Manchester United revived doubts about his attitude. It was later withdrawn although he is expected to sign for Everton when his contract ends this summer.

Public image

Wary of reporters, saying he prefers to focus exclusively on football, he did not do TV interviews even after scoring twice at Tottenham. Has been portrayed as surly and cocksure, although colleagues say he is actually shy. Has tattoos on his neck and arms but less has been seen of his ear-piercings.

What they say about him

"He's a goalscorer, pure and simple. He still has a bit to learn in his all-round play, but inside the box he's very dangerous." (Jimmy Armfield, ex-Leeds manager).

"I know enough about this game to spot a born goalscorer, but there has to be a question mark about whether he can do it in the Premier League." (Allan Clarke, former Leeds and England striker).

general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before