Five things you might not know about Harrogate Town's newest recruit Michael Woods

Former Leeds United and Chelsea midfielder Michael Woods returned to Harrogate Town this week, joining from National League rivals Hartlepool United.

Tuesday, 20th November 2018, 9:57 am
Updated Tuesday, 20th November 2018, 10:04 am
Michael Woods celebrates a goal during his time at Hartlepool United

The 28-year-old previously turned out at Wetherby Road between 2013 and 2014, making 37 league appearances and scoring nine goals.

Here are five things you might not already know about Simon Weaver's most recent recruit.

Michael Woods during his first spell at Harrogate Town. Picture Adrian Murray

1. His controversial switch from Leeds United to Chelsea in 2006 was more of a necessity than a choice.

Aged just 16 years old, Woods left Leeds United's academy to join then-Premier League champions Chelsea.

Controversy surrounded the move, with Whites chairman at the time Ken Bates accusing his former club of poaching both Woods and team-mate Tom Taiwo, who also left Elland Road for Stamford Bridge.

In the end, a £5 million compensation package was agreed, however, for Woods, turning down the advances of Jose Mourinho was never an option.

Michael Woods, right, training alongside Callum Howe during his first day back at Harrogate Town. Picture: Matt Kirkham

Speaking to the Harrogate Advertiser back in 2013 during his first spell at Harrogate Town, he described his decision to move as a "no-brainer."

“There was a time when we were all dragged in [at Leeds] and told that the academy was going to be scrapped, there was going to be no youth set-up and they were struggling to pay wages,” he said.

“I don’t think people realise how bad it was. I didn’t have a choice but to go.”

2. Woods' debut for Chelsea saw him replace a club legend.

Michael Woods signs up for his second spell at Harrogate Town. Picture: Matt Kirkham

In January 2007, Woods played his first ever game for Chelsea's first team, coming off the substitutes' bench during an FA Cup tie with Macclesfield Town at Stamford Bridge.

The player whose place he took on the pitch was none other than Blues legend Frank Lampard, the club's all-time leading scorer with 212 strikes to his name.

3. Things could have worked out very differently for Woods, but for injury problems.

Woods only made five first-team appearances for Chelsea during his five years at the club, but surely would have enjoyed more game-time were it not for a series of injuries.

He was playing alongside the likes of Lampard, Michael Essien and Claude Makelele in the midfield engine room, but said that he felt "comfortable" in their company and operating at the highest level.

However, less than two years into his time in South West London he was told he may never play football again having seriously damaged his knee during a reserve team fixture.

Then, when he finally battled back to fitness, he lasted just 10 minutes before dislocating an ankle.

Reflecting on his time at Chelsea, Woods said: "I felt comfortable at that level. Once I had a taste of that I just wanted more. Until I got injured I was absolutely flying."

4. He capped his first ever appearance for Harrogate Town with a goal.

Woods made an instant impression when he signed for Harrogate Town during the 2013/14 campaign.

He found the back of the net on his debut against Brackley Town on February 9, 2013, but couldn't save his new team from a 2-1 National League North defeat.

He went on to score a further two goals before the end of the season, then bagged six in 22 league games in 2014/15.

5. Woods was a stand-out performer in front of goal for Hartlepool United last term.

Woods was a regular starter for Hartlepool United in League Two during his first three years there.

Last season was however his best and he finished as Pools' leading marksman, netting 11 time in all competitions following relegation to the National League.

He became the first midfielder at the club to hit double figures since the 2011/12 campaign, and his form in front of goal contributed to him being named United's Supporters Association Away Player of the Year.