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Leeds legend Viduka hails Premier League return of 'special club'


Leeds United and Australia hero Mark Viduka said he is over the moon for the Yorkshire club's spectacular promotion to the Premier League.

"Leeds are a special club and are very close to my heart," Viduka said from his home in Zagreb, Croatia's capital.

Leeds are back among English football's elite after winning the Championship and Viduka, one of their all-time favourite players, said he could not be happier for the club, the players and coach Marcelo Bielsa.

"My family and I still follow them and I'm so wrapped for them because the Premier League is where Leeds belong," said the former striker, who scored 72 goals in 166 matches for the club.

"They have been playing really good football for a while and they were desperately unlucky not to go up last year.

"Bielsa has done a great job in organising them and setting an attractive style.

"I spent four amazing years in Leeds and our two kids were born there."

Viduka burst onto the domestic scene in 1993 when he led the Melbourne Knights attack in the old National Soccer League.

At the time, he was seen as a genuine talent who was destined to go places. And it was only a matter of time before his precocious skills would land him a European contract.

In 1995, he joined Dinamo Zagreb and his reputation continued to rise in Britain where he played for Celtic, Leeds, Middlesbrough and Newcastle United before quitting the game in 2009.

Leeds, however, still mean a lot to the man who captained the Socceroos at the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

"My time at Elland Road gave me big highs that I will never forget," he said.

"It was a great club to play for and together we achieved a lot.

"We made the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League in 2001 after beating clubs like AC Milan, Anderlecht, Deportivo and Lazio.

"I was at a club that was always fighting for a place in the premiership's top four and I enjoyed being a part of that.

"On a personal level I am proud of the four goals I scored against Liverpool in the league that same year.

"It was a great time for the club and myself."