|Full name||Leon Julian Brendan Best|
|Date of birth||19 September 1986|
|Place of birth||Nottingham, England|
|Height||1.85 m (6 ft 1 in) |
|2004–2005||→ Queens Park Rangers (loan)||5||(0)|
|2005||→ Sheffield Wednesday (loan)||2||(1)|
|2006||→ Sheffield Wednesday (loan)||11||(1)|
|2006||→ Bournemouth (loan)||15||(3)|
|2006–2007||→ Yeovil Town (loan)||15||(10)|
|2014||→ Sheffield Wednesday (loan)||15||(4)|
|2014–2015||→ Derby County (loan)||15||(0)|
|2015||→ Brighton & Hove Albion (loan)||13||(0)|
|2008||Republic of Ireland U21||1||(0)|
|2009–2010||Republic of Ireland||7||(0)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 16:42, 18 April 2015 (UTC).
Leon Julian Brendan Best (born 19 September 1986) is a footballer who plays as a striker. He has played for the Republic of Ireland national football team. Best represented Ireland at under-21 level and won his first full international cap against Nigeria on 29 May 2009. Best had a youth career at Notts County. His first professional club was then Premier League club Southampton. He has also played for Coventry City and Newcastle United before his 2012 move to Blackburn Rovers.
As a young player, Best started his career at Notts County before being signed as a trainee by then Premier League club Southampton. He made his professional debut against Newcastle United on his 18th birthday in 2004. A loan spell at Queens Park Rangers followed later in the 2004–05 season.
Best also had two loan spells at Sheffield Wednesday in the 2005–06 season, scoring his first professional goal and Wednesday's first of the season on 9 August 2005 at Hillsborough against Hull City. The first loan spell was cut short in the same match when Best broke his foot and returned to St. Mary's after only 5 days in Sheffield. After recovering with Southampton, Best then returned to Hillsborough at the end of the January transfer window (though there was also speculation he would go to Crystal Palace) where he remained until the end of the season, scoring Wednesday's last goal of the season at Derby County on 30 April 2006.
On 3 August 2006 Best joined Football League One club Bournemouth on a month-long loan deal with an option to extend his stay. He returned to Southampton at the end of October at the end of the maximum 3-month loan spell, having made 15 league appearances, scoring 3 goals. Best ended the season with a stint at Northumbria League's Weapons of Grass Destruction, and finished the season with 5 goals in the final 3 games to fire Weapons to their first league title.
After his loan spells, Best returned to play a role in Southampton's qualification for the Championship play-offs, where they faced Derby County. He came on as a substitute in the first leg at St Marys, which Southampton lost 2–1. In the second leg Best started alongside on-loan striker Marek Saganowski. The game ended in a tie on aggregate, with Best scoring an own goal which levelled the score at 2–2 on the night. Southampton lost 4–3 in the ensuing penalty shootout, with Best missing the opening penalty.
On 5 July 2007, he joined Coventry City for a fee of £650,000 decided by a tribunal, with the fee increasing were Coventry to gain promotion to the Premiership by 2010. Following a cheekbone fracture at the end of 2008, Best took his place in the team wearing a protective mask. His return led him scoring three goals in successive matches and consequently gaining a reputation for wearing a "Besty" mask, even after he had recovered from his injury and earning the nickname "Zorro". His distinctive mask became somewhat of a talisman for Coventry City fans, many of whom took to wearing similar masks in the stands as a tribute to Best. On 3 October 2009 he was named Championship Player of the Month for September.
He signed for Newcastle United on 1 February 2010 for a fee of £1,500,000 on a three and a half year contract. Best made his debut against Cardiff City at St James' Park on 5 February 2010. Best failed to make an impact in his first season at Newcastle as he failed to find a goal and was put behind on form strike duo Andy Carroll and Peter Løvenkrands.
Best netted his first goal for Newcastle in a pre-season friendly against Carlisle United on 17 July 2010, followed by his second goal for the club in the pre-season Sir Bobby Robson tribute match against PSV Eindhoven on 31 July 2010. However Best then received a cruciate injury during pre-season causing him to miss the first few months of the 2010–11 season. He was back in light training by the end of September and was on the bench for Newcastle's 1–1 draw with Chelsea on 28 November, but did not make an appearance. He made his comeback in Newcastle's 1–0 victory against Wigan Athletic on 2 January 2011, appearing as a late substitute for Shola Ameobi. Best made his first Premier League start for Newcastle in a home 5–0 win against West Ham United on 5 January 2011, scoring a hat-trick in the process, his first league goals for the club. He was injured prior to the Stoke away game on 19 March and was ruled out until the end of the season. However, Best had scored six goals in 10 starts.
On 28 August 2011, he scored two goals against Fulham to give Newcastle a 2–1 victory followed by the equalizer in the 1–1 draw with Aston Villa, extending the Magpies unbeaten run to eight games in the English Premier League.
On 2 July 2012, Best signed for Blackburn Rovers on a four-year contract for a fee of more than £3 million. Less than a month after signing for Blackburn Rovers, he suffered an injury to his anterior cruciate ligaments, ruling him out for at least six months.
Best scored his first league goal in the 89th minute, when he volleyed in a Chris Taylor cross for Blackburn when he came on as a first-half substitute for the injured Ruben Rochina in a 1–1 draw with Derby County at Pride Park on 4 August 2013.
Best was released by Rovers on 8 July 2015 by Mutual Consent.
On 14 February 2014, he was loaned out by Rovers to their SkyBet Championship rivals Sheffield Wednesday, this was to be his third spell with the Yorkshire club having previously been on loan at Hillsborough in 2005 and 2006. He scored his first goal in his third spell at the club in a 2–1 FA Cup defeat to Charlton Athletic on 24 February 2014. On 14 March 2014, Best extended his loan with the Owls until the end of the 2013–14 season. Best scored his first league goal of his third spell with the owls on 15 March 2014, helping with a 4–1 victory over Birmingham City FC.
Best qualifies to play for the Republic of Ireland through his mother, who is from Bluebell, Dublin. He also lived in Dublin from the age of seven, playing for Lourdes Celtic before returning to Nottingham.
Having already represented the Republic of Ireland firstly at under-17 level in 2002 and later at under-21 level in 2008, Best was called up to the Republic of Ireland senior squad for the first time for the games against Nigeria and then the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria in May 2009. He made his debut on 29 May against Nigeria in a match that finished in a 1–1 draw.
- As of 7 January 2015.
|Club||Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Other||Total|
|Queens Park Rangers (loan)||2004–05||Championship||5||0||0||0||0||0||—||5||0|
|Sheffield Wednesday (loan)||2005–06||Championship||13||2||0||0||0||0||—||13||2|
|Bournemouth (loan)||2006–07||League One||15||3||0||0||1||0||1[b]||0||17||3|
|Yeovil Town (loan)||2006–07||League One||15||10||0||0||0||0||0||0||15||10|
|Sheffield Wednesday (loan)||2013–14||Championship||13||4||1||1||0||0||—||14||5|
|Derby County (loan)||2014–15||Championship||15||0||1||0||4||0||—||20||0|
- Newcastle United
- "Premier League clubs submit squad lists". premierleague.com (Premier League). 2010-09-01. Retrieved 2010-09-01.
- "Premier League Player Profile". Premier League. Retrieved 23 April 2011.
- "Coventry City star Leon Best wants an Irish call up". Sunday Mercury. 25 October 2008. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
- "Cherries sign Best and Ainsworth". bbc.co.uk. 3 August 2006. Retrieved 3 August 2006.
- "The loan arranger". saintsfc.co.uk. Retrieved 24 November 2006.[dead link]
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- "Best fee set". www.saintsfc.co.uk. Retrieved 26 September 2007.[dead link]
- MacAskill, Sandy (7 March 2009). "Leon Best aims to be masked marvel for Coventry against Chelsea in FA Cup". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 7 May 2010.[dead link]
- FA Cup coverage. ITV 7 March 2009.
- "Leon Best profile". Newcastle United FC. 1 February 2010. Retrieved 2 January 2011.
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- "Carlisle United 0 Newcastle United 3". Newcastle United FC. 17 July 2010. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
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- "Newcastle United 1–0 QPR". BBC News. 15 January 2012.
- "Best becomes Rovers second summer signing 2012". Lancashire Evening Telegraph. 2 July 2012. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
- "Leon Best fee may well go up to £3million". ChronicleLive.co.uk. 3 July 2012. Retrieved 3 July 2012.
- "Blackburn's Leon Best out for six months with knee injury". BBC. 30 July 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
- Cryer, Andy (4 August 2013). "Derby 1 – 1 Blackburn 1". BBC Sport. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
- "Sheff Wed 1–2 Charlton". BBC. 24 February 2014. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
- "Best extends". Sheffield Wednesday FC. 14 March 2014.
- "Derby County Sign Striker Leon Best On Loan From Blackburn Rovers". Derby County F.C. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
- Irish Mail on Sunday, 6 February 2011.
- "Lawrence handed Republic call-up". BBC Sport. 18 May 2009. Retrieved 18 May 2009.
- McCaig, Alvin (29 May 2009). "Rep of Ireland 1 – 1 Nigeria". BBC Sport. Retrieved 5 January 2011.
- "Leon Best Career Stats". Soccerbase. Retrieved 5 August 2013.