David Healy opens up on leaving Preston for Leeds United

Back in 2004, Preston decided to sell David Healy to Leeds United, taking a major loss in the process.

North End had paid a total of £1.8million to sign Healy from Manchester United in 2001. It’s a fee that may still be Preston’s club-record signing.

The Northern Irishman hit 45 goals in 156 games for Preston, but had fallen out of favour under Craig Brown, leading to a loan move to Norwich City.

Under Billy Davies, Healy was controversially sold to Leeds in a deal worth just £650,000, with Preston choosing to cash in.

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Fans were frustrated when Leeds were chasing Healy, as he appeared to wave to the Whites fans when Preston visited Elland Road just weeks before his exit.

When Healy was sold and made his first return to Deepdale, he scored twice against the Lilywhites and celebrated wildly in front of the Town End.

Few have been able to forgive Healy over the last 17 years, and a return to Preston was even kiboshed back in 2012, as fan backlash would have been too strong.

Healy has now spoken to The Athletic, and claims that he never disrespected Preston, but wanted to leave as soon as Leeds came in for him.

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Healy noted that Paul Butler – then Leeds captain – had been telling him how much Leeds wanted him, so he made the move to Elland Road, hitting back at a ‘little mob’ at Deepdale.

“I took it with a pinch of salt for a while because a lot of that stuff goes around,” said Healy. “There’s a difference between a club liking you and signing you. But when it became solid, I wanted to go. I didn’t feel like my time at Preston was going as I wanted it to and I’d had differences of opinions with the manager there, Craig Brown. I’d made my mind up that I wanted a fresh challenge.”

“I was never disrespectful to Preston and, as a club, they weren’t disrespectful to me in the way the deal was done but it was funny going back there straight after leaving. Sean Gregan was in the squad at Leeds and he’d been at Preston too. When he got off the bus, there was a big round of applause for him. I got off the bus and there was this little mob waiting for me. I kept my head down but it was nice to score twice and prove a point,” he added.

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