Leeds players and fans bid emotional farewell to club legend Luke Ayling as he completes move to Middlesborough

A Leeds legend and a top bloke, no question about it.
Luke Ayling joins Boro from Leeds

Players past and present have joined countless fans in bidding an emotional farewell to Leeds United legend, Luke Ayling, as he departs the club to join Middlesborough after more than seven long years at Elland Road.

Ayling, who has been a stalwart in the side since 2016, spending some of the best years of his career and the club’s recent history as the first-choice right-back, was officially unveiled as a Boro player on Wednesday — but not before a proper goodbye.

Having been part of the side that led Leeds back to the Premier League after their 16-year absence and serving as a trusted deputy to team captain Liam Cooper during his injury setbacks, the fans and those around the club are gutted to see him go.

The club shared a number of fond farewells from Cooper, Patrick Bamford, Archie Gray and Stuart Dallas on Thursday.

Leeds stars say bye to the bloke simply known as ‘Bill’.

Making a total of 268 appearances (93 in the top flight) keeping 83 clean sheets and serving as captain 81 times started as captain, not to mention registering 11 goals and 21 assists from full-back, he has been a key cog in how Leeds play for a long time.

Surviving nine different managers across eight whole seasons, experiencing all the highs and the lows, the 32-year-old has seen every side of the Peacocks and things won’t be the same without him. His former teammates made that abundantly clear.

Cooper wrote in his own personal tribute post on X: “Think I speak for everyone, there isn’t many who come and get us like Bill. I’d want him in the trenches with me everyday of the week. Enjoyed the highest of highs and dragged each other through the tough times. Gonna miss you pal. Nothing but respect.”

Dallas also joined, adding, “A leader both on and off the pitch. An absolute warrior who I would pick to go to war with every day of the week. A club legend that will be remembered forever. It’s been a pleasure my mate.” The fan farewells have been even more emotional:

His impact around the club both on and off the pitch has been huge.

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Ayling now joins the fellow Championship side on loan until the end of the season but with his contract expiring at the end of the season, there is the obvious expectation that a move to Michael Carrick’s side or otherwise will be made permanent.

The former Arsenal academy graduate hasn’t played in the league for the Whites since 3 November but was given a cameo by manager Daniel Farke in the FA Cup win over Peterborough United this past Sunday.

Speaking on his decision to leave, Ayling himself thanked the club for the unwavering support, insisting: “I can’t tell you what a great time I’ve had… I’ve got no words”.

Reeling off the highlights from his time in Yorkshire in a lengthy sign-off, he ended by simply writing, “Thank you for everything, I hope I’ve done you proud”.

Goodbye to a legend — take care, Bill.

Featured Image — Leeds United (via X)/Sky Sports (screenshot)

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