Beckford's bling hides willing approach to hard work

When Jermaine Beckford accepted the award for League One Player of the Year at the London Hilton this week he appeared a stereotypically flash footballer. Black suit, black shirt, white tie, diamond ear-stud and neck tattoo.

The thought occurred that the 24-year-old had just one decent year in League One under his belt. That maybe he was getting carried away.

Behind the scenes, however, a different Beckford emerged. This is the one who knew how fortunate he was to be carving out a living from the game, who had been in non-League, had been to the cash-point hoping he could draw out a tenner at the end of the week, who had done a series of low-income jobs.

“I've seen the normal, everyday side of life,” said the Leeds United striker. “It does give you a sense of perspective. I've been through times when I've had no money - I've had £40 to last the month and I'm only in the second week. I've had to scrimp and scrape so I know how to deal with things like that. I've done a few different jobs - working for the RAC, in sports shops, in supermarkets, in an office, fitting windscreens - all sorts. Now I've got back into the game I don't want to go back to that so I'm going to give it everything I can. I'll do all that's in my power to make sure that doesn't happen.”

Beckford was on Chelsea's books as a teenager, in the same year as West Ham's Carlton Cole. He was released at 19 but said, “Just being able to play football with guys like Gianfranco Zola was a massive honour. To see how Chelsea are doing now makes me proud and makes me want to be able to get to the Premier League myself even more.”

Beckford went to Wealdstone and began scoring prolifically. In March 2006 Leeds beat off a clutch of clubs to sign him for £45,000. However, he struggled to establish himself even when Leeds began to slide down the Championship and asked to go on loan to Carlisle, then Scunthorpe. While at Glanford Park he scored eight goals in 18 appearances including a spectacular strike against Rotherham which won the Football League's 2007 Goal of the Year award. Scunthorpe went up, to the Championship, just as Leeds slid out of it.

The transfer embargo meant Leeds were unable to buy in strikers for much of the close-season so Dennis Wise resisted bids for Beckford instead giving him the chance to lead Leeds' assault on the 15-point penalty imposed for going into administration. Beckford has responded with 17 goals to lead the division's scoring chart.

“It's been a manic season,” he said, “an interesting ride. We've had loads of downs but also we've had unbelievable ups as well, for example clawing back the 15 points that we were deducted. Catching the first team above us was an unbelievable feeling. And also being top of the league. Nobody ever thought we would be able to do that and we did it, we proved a lot of teams wrong. Those were good things - unfortunately we've had quite a few bad losses where we've dropped points and ended up where we are [8th]. I feel like everything happens for a reason so hopefully we will be able to get back a couple more points, get in the play-offs and then reach for the automatic spots.”

Beckford admitted it was difficult to sustain momentum once Leeds stopped moving through the field like Lewis Hamilton going past the backmarkers at a GP. But he adds ”I think it was more the case that one or two players became complacent, myself included. We're kicking ourselves for that now.”

There has also been a change of management, and playing style, after Wise moved to Newcastle. New manager Gary McAllister, said Beckford, “wants us to get the ball down a lot more. It's not going to happen immediately, but it is happening, slowly but surely. I'm part of the change and I'm enjoying it. I'm looking forward to seeing the end product.”

Today Leeds are at home to Bournemouth, who have also gone into administration and been deducted points. “Losing points is a real kick in the teeth,” said Beckford. “There should be a better way of dealing with it. It's basically the League saying they don't want you in the division, they want you in the division below. It is bad enough going into administration. Everybody was worried- we all have mortgages to pay and stuff. And to have 15 points taken away left us with a mountain to climb. It looked ridiculous when you saw the table and still does. We should be a lot higher than we are.”

Another huge crowd, for League One, will be at Elland Road today. “The support this season has been absolutely phenomenal,” said Beckford. “To be a League One club and have a 32,500 attendance is unreal. It shows massive support although it means every team that plays us treats the match like a cup final.” With 12 such 'finals' to go Leeds, who are still contesting the points deduction, are two points off the play-offs, and 12 adrift of automatic promotion. If the lawyers do not get the 15-point sanction lifted Beckford and his team-mates will have to do it on the pitch. “Getting the points back would be great, but we're taking it upon ourselves to get us back to where we belong,” he said.

Pro-Russia rebels guard a train containing the bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 crash in Torez, Ukraine
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Arts and Entertainment
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
The Commonwealth flag flies outside Westminster Abbey in central London
Arts and Entertainment
Struggling actors who scrape a living working in repertory theatres should get paid a 'living wage', Sir Ian McKellen has claimed
Skye McCole Bartusiak's mother said she didn't use drink or drugs
peopleActress was known for role in Mel Gibson film The Patriot
Arts and Entertainment
tvWebsite will allow you to watch all 522 shows on-demand
Arts and Entertainment
filmThe Rock to play DC character in superhero film
Arts and Entertainment
Damon Albarn is starting work on a new West End musical
artsStar's 'leftfield experimental opera' is turning mainstream
Life and Style
Paul and his father
artsPaul Carter wants to play his own father in the film of his memoirs
Ben Stokes trudges off after his latest batting failure for England as Ishant Sharma celebrates one of his seven wickets
Arts and Entertainment
Members of the public are invited to submit their 'sexcapades' to Russell T Davies' new series Tofu
Sky's Colin Brazier rummages through an MH17 victim's belongings live on air
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game
arts + ents'The Imitation Game' stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor