Milan memory lives on at Leeds

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It's fair to say that Leeds United have had many ups and downs in the past 15 years.

A spell in the Champions League matched with time in Npower League One, the signings of Rio Ferdinand and Robbie Keane compared with Alan Smith's exit to Manchester United.

Whilst certain periods in this time frame have been a nightmare at Elland Road, the club did 'live the dream' in Europe under David O'Leary, as former chairman Peter Ridsdale famously said.

And that dream was no more evident than 11 years ago today, when Dominic Matteo's header earned a draw with AC Milan at the San Siro, and sent the Whites through to the knockout stages of the elite club competition at the expense of their iconic Italian opponents.

Drawn in a group with Barcelona, a 4-0 defeat in the Nou Camp suggested progression could be a struggle. However, wins against Milan and Besiktas at home put Leeds in position to qualify, and after drawing the return fixture in Turkey and against Barca at home, a point at the San Siro was the only thing required.

And it was the unlikely head of Dominic Matteo which sent Leeds on their way, nodding home at the near-post from a corner to put the Whits on an unlikely path to the last 16 at the expense of Barca.

Serginho struck past Paul Robinson in the second-half to make it 1-1, but a side boasting the likes of Mark Viduka, Ian Harte, Lee Bowyer and Olivier Dacourt held on for a famous draw.

"What really stands out from such a memorable night is the celebrations that followed the final whistle," said Matteo in his autobiography.

"About 7,000 Leeds fans had made the trip to Italy and were being held in the ground by the police so the streets outside could be cleared. After showering and changing, we were then asked to go out and wave to the fans.

"The lads didn’t need asking twice as we all wanted the celebrations to go on all night – which, as it turned out, is exactly what happened!"

Whilst recent times have been much tougher under Simon Grayson, the dream of a return to the Barclays Premier League, and one day Europe, remains strong for all those who enjoyed the club's run to the semi-final that season.

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