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Leon Best

Leon Best is an English/Irish forward who was born in Nottingham on 19th September 1986. Best began his career with Notts County before being poached by Southampton as a youngster. He made his Saints debut as a late sub on 19th September 2004 in a 2-1 home loss to Newcastle. On 16th October 2004 Best received his first start in a Saints shirt at Everton. He was loaned to QPR in December for a short spell at Loftus Road. Best was also part of the academy side that reached the 2005 FA Youth Cup final.

Best had another brief loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday in August 2005 under his former Southampton boss Paul Sturrock, scoring his first professional goal for the club on 9th August against Hull. His time at Hillsborough was cut short after he broke his foot. Best made a few appearances for Saints in December 2005 after manager Harry Redknapp had returned to Portsmouth. He returned to Sheffield Wednesday in January 2006 and remained with the Owls for the rest of the season.

Best joined Bournemouth for three months in August 2006, and scored three times during his spell at Dean Court. It was at Yeovil though, that Best really caught the attention of his employers Southampton. After joining The Glovers in November 2006, he went on a goal scoring spree for the League One side, netting 10 in 15. Best returned to St Marys in March 2007 and helped Saints earn a play-off spot. Best scored his first ever goal for the club in an amazing 6-0 win at Wolves on 31st March 2007. He followed that up with the only goal in the penultimate game of the season at Norwich on April 28th, and a brace on the last day against Southend. Although he was still green, Best worked hard and showed signs that he could become a very good player. He performed less well in the play-off semi final second leg at Derby however. Best did provide the assist for Viafara's second goal of the night, but also scored an unfortunate own-goal and blasted a penalty wide of the post in the shoot out.

On July 5th 2007 Best moved to Coventry for a tribunal set fee of £650,000 after his contract at Southampton had expired. He made his Sky Blues debut on 11th August 2007 in a 4-1 win at Barnsley. Best had a passable first season at The Ricoh Arena, scoring nine times in forty matches. His first goal for the club came in a 3-0 Carling Cup win over Notts County on 14th August 2007. He was less prolific in his second season, scoring just four times in 2008/09. One of those goals came in a 4-1 win over former club Southampton on 4th October 2008. Best returned to form in 2009/10, starting the campaign in prolific fashion. He scored five in five in the month of September, which led to a January move to Championship runaway leaders Newcastle.

Chris Hughton signed Best on transfer deadline day for an undisclosed fee on a three and a half year contract. Best made his debut for The Toon on 5th February in the club's 5-1 battering of Cardiff. The former Saints man struggled to make much of an impact in his first few months at St James Park however, failing to score once for them in 2009/10.

After Newcastle returned to the Premiership in 2010 it looked as though Best's days a first team regular were numbered. He missed the first couple of months of the season after suffering a cruciate injury in a friendly. His first match of the season didn't come until 2nd January 2011, when he came off the bench at Wigan. Three days later he started in a home clash with West Ham, and scored an incredible hatrick in a 5-0 win. Best was one of the main beneficiaries of Andy Carroll's move away from the club. He proved he had what it took at the highest level by scoring further goals against Arsenal, Birmingham and Everton.

In the summer of 2011 Best was told by Newcastle he was up for sale. A move never materialised however, as the former Saints man started 2011/12 in good form, with goals against Fulham and Aston Villa. He played second fiddle to the likes of Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse throughout 2011/12, but still looked reasonably decent coming off the bench. Best scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over QPR on 15th January. In February 2012 he was ruled out for months with knee ligament damage.

Best continued to suffer terrible luck with injuries during 2012/13. A month after signing for Blackburn in July 2012 he went down with damage to his anterior cruciate ligaments. He returned in March 2013, but had his season cut short on April 20th after receiving a red card in a 4-0 defeat at Watford. Best quickly made amends at the start of 2013/14, with the opener in a 1-1 draw at Derby in August. In September 2013 he netted against former club Bournemouth.

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