With former academy star Lewis Cook set to enter the England first team picture this evening, it’s been a while since the club could boast a Leeds player (albeit former) being selected for the senior squad.
The last time Leeds players pulled on the shirt of the Three Lions in a World Cup tournament, the year was 2002 and Sven-Goran Eriksson was the man given the sizeable task of meeting expectations still skewed by that famous victory in 1966.
The squad that Eriksson had at his disposal is widely regarded as the most formidable collection of English players in the 21st-century, but the inability to deploy a player of Paul Scholes' talent correctly remains an indictment of their underachievement. With the perfect balance of experience and youth, and featuring many players with genuine claims on a world-class status, 2002 will remain the one that got away unless England can surpass the quarter-final stage in Russia this summer.
Of course, it did take a freakish goal from Ronaldinho to defeat England in 2002. Also it is worth remembering how brilliant that Brazil side was, with Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo a ludicrously talented set of attackers. Yet that England side featured global superstars in the shape of David Beckham, Michael Owen and Sol Campbell. It would have also included Gary Neville had the right-back not fallen injured before the tournament.
This opened the door for Leeds' Danny Mills to step in and play every minute of England's campaign. Although Mills had question marks over his temperament as identified at the time by The Guardian, his rampages forward from right-back made him an underappreciated component of Eriksson's England.
England could certainly do with a right-back of Mills' ilk for this summer. Kyle Walker surely has ownership of the starting berth, but then Neville would have done so in 2002 if not for injury. Yet when Neville became unavailable, Mills was the ideal replacement. If Walker were to succumb to injury, either before or during the tournament, Spurs' Kieran Trippier or the Liverpool duo of Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold will be required to step in. Although there is talent abound in that trio, there is a lack of experience and dependability on the biggest stage.
Gomez did look assured in his recent England outings, although Alexander-Arnold will be looking to definitively usurp his compatriot for both club and country.
Many experts, including a spokesperson at Oddschecker, are suggesting that Alexander-Arnold may yet earn a spot on the plane to Russia if he maintains his level of performance. Odds on Southgate selecting him have been slashed in recent weeks, with the England manager aware of what it is required when choosing a group of players for a major tournament. Southgate was a member of that World Cup squad in 2002 in a backup capacity, and he shared the plane to South Korea and Japan with a quartet of Leeds players.
Mills was joined in England's starting defence by the prodigiously talented Rio Ferdinand, whose performances for England would tempt Manchester United to splash out that summer. Robbie Fowler, who never quite reached his full potential in an England shirt, was a striking option, while the experience of Nigel Martyn made for a strong goalkeeping deputy to David Seaman. 2002 versions of all of these four players would be welcomed gratefully by Southgate, with England lacking a defensive leader like Ferdinand, depth in striking options and experience among goalkeepers.
If new manager Paul Heckingbottom can take Leeds back to where they belong within the next four years, perhaps we'll be talking about a new set of players who pull on the prestigious white shirts of both Leeds and England.