Leeds United F.C. History
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1919-29 - The Twenties
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1939-46 - The War Years
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1957-63 - From Charles to Revie
1961-75 - The Revie Years
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1996-04 - The Rollercoaster Ride
2004-17 - Down Among The Deadmen
100 Greatest LUFC Players Ever
Greatest Leeds United Games
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Leeds City F.C. History
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McPhail: Stephen John Paul (Stephen)

1996-2004 (Leeds Player Details)(Player Details)

Left Midfield

Born: Westminster, London: 09-12-1979

Debut: v Leicester City (a) (Substitute): 07-02-1998

5’10” 12st (2007)

Born in Westminster, London but raised in New York and Dublin, McPhail came through the ranks at Elland Road. He was part of the same Leeds United Youth team which produced other full internationals Harry Kewell, Alan Maybury, Matthew Jones, Jonathan Woodgate and Paul Robinson, which carried off the FA Youth Cup in 1996-97 and the Reserves Pontin’s League Championship in 1997-98. As he progressed at Leeds, his International career also blossomed and he was picked for the Republic of Ireland in the UEFA Championships at Under-Eighteen level, playing his first two games as a substitute as a fifty-first minute replacement for Mark McKeever, then of Peterborough United, on his debut in a 2-2 draw with Denmark in Dublin on 22nd October 1996 and on 20th May 1997 in a 3-0 win over Norway, in Dublin as a seventy-ninth minute replacement for Stephen Roche of Millwall. As the UEFA Championships moved to the Final stages in Iceland he picked up three further caps in a 2-3 defeat by eventual winners, France, in the Kaplakrikavollur Stadium at Hafnarfjordur on 24th July 1997 then a 2-0 win over Switzerland at Fjolnisvollur Stadium at Reykjavik two days later and then a 1-1 draw with Israel at Kopavogsvollur Stadium at Kopavogur, two days after that, but missed the third place play-off game against Spain. He was still young enough to take part in the 1998 UEFA Championships and played both of the games in Group Four of the qualifying ties in Chisinau, Moldova as the Republic defeated Azerbaijan 4-2 on 22nd October 1997 and Moldova 1-0 two days later, as they advanced to the next stage. Round Two saw them drawn on a home-and-away basis against Greece and they once more progressed by defeating them 1-0 in Veria on 25th March 1998 and 2-0 in Dublin on 14th May 1998. This meant that they were through to the final phase which was staged in Cyprus. He scored the third goal in the final minute of the first half of the first game on 19th July 1998 as Ireland beat Croatia 5-2 at Ayia Napa, and was back two days later for the 0-1 defeat by England at Anagennisi Deryniea. He missed the 3-0 victory over Cyprus two days later, which saw Ireland progress on goal difference, after a three-way tie with England and Croatia, but was back for the Final on 26th July 1998 at New GSZ Stadium at Larnaca. Ireland took the lead with twenty minutes left on the clock through Alan Quinn, but Germany equalized in the final minutes to force extra time. However, the game had to be decided on penalties. The Irish keeper, Alex O’Reilly, saved the first German penalty and after Ryan Casey, Paul Donnelly and Barry Quinn had all scored, there was a blip as both sides faltered, but with the scores tied at 3-3, Liam George had the tenth and final kick, but the then Luton player made no mistake, and Ireland were Under-Eighteen Champions of Europe. It was a fine way to close the book on his Under-eighteen international career in which he had scored once in twelve games, of which two had been as a substitute. He had begun to make an impact on the first team during the 1997-98 season when he made several substitute appearances and impressed with his hard working play and strong passing ability, which was showcased during one league match at Derby County, on 15th March 1998, when, after coming on as a substitute, almost with his first kick, he made a fifty-yard lob pass to Leeds and future Cardiff City teammate Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink which some Leeds fans described as "one of the passes of the season" and Leeds cruised to an emphatic 5-0 away victory. He played as an attacking central midfield player but could play on the left as well and had a sweet left boot. At International level he progressed to the Republic of Ireland Under-Twenty-one side, making his debut on 13th October 1998 in a UEFA 2000 Championship qualifier in Group Eight in a 2-1 win over Malta as a fifty-fifth minute substitute for Alan Mahon, then of Tranmere Rovers, at Arklow. He then took part in three games in the World Youth Cup Finals, Group C, in Nigeria as after a 0-1 loss to Mexico on 4th April 1999 in Ibadan they beat Saudi Arabia 2-0, three days later, with McPhail netting the first goal after forty-one minutes, and Australia 4-0 three days later at the same venue, to progress to the second round in second place. They were unfortunate enough to draw the host nation, Nigeria, and on 14th April 1999 at the Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano, and things were looking good when Richard Sadlier gave them the lead after thirty-five minutes, but with twenty minutes left on the clock, Pius Ikedia levelled the scores. It remained 1-1 at full-time and extra-time saw no more goals. Once more McPhail and the Republic faced a penalty shootout to decide it. Nigeria did not falter, but, after Garry Crossley and Paul Donnelly had answered their perfect record, Thomas Heary missed with the Republic's third shot. So even though Barry Quinn netted the fourth attempt, Nigeria had got their fifth and had won 5-3, so there was no fifth Irish attempt. McPhail continued on 31st May 1999 in a 0-1 defeat by Scotland at Elgin in an Under-Twenty-One Tournament in Scotland in which he quickly made a second appearance two days later as a seventy-fifth minute substitute for Mark McKeever, then of Sheffield Wednesday in a 1-0 win over Northern Ireland at Inverness. He added three more caps to his collection in the Group Eight games in the UEFA Championships of 2000, the first being in a 3-0 win over FYR Macedonia at Terryland Park, Galway, on 8th June 1999. On 31st August 1999 they went down 0-2 to Yugoslavia in Dublin and three days later in the Kranjceviceva Street Stadium, home of NK Zagreb, there was a 1-5 defeat by Croatia, as the Republic failed to progress to the Finals as they finished third in the group. He brought his Under-Twenty-One caps to ten, of which two had been as a substitute and he had netted one goal, on 31st August 2001 in the UEFA Championships of 2002 in a Group Two qualifier in a 1-1 draw with Netherlands at the Regional Sports Centre in Waterford, but by then he was already a full International and a Leeds regular. He started to become a regular for the Leeds United side during the 1999-00 season, after making several substitute appearances, when he was given a long run in the first team squad and was rewarded with a new five-year contract at Elland Road. During this time McPhail went on to break his scoring duck for Leeds that year when he scored twice in a League match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.The young Leeds team were in such good form and so mesmerized the Chelsea defenders that Leboeuf totally lost the plot and gota red card for a vicious assault on Leeds winger Harry Kewell. The Leeds team played some scintillating football and McPhail was regularly at the centre of it spraying the ball to all points of the ground at will. He received his first full International call up on 30th May 2000 when manager Mick McCarthy selected him against Scotland, at Landsdowne Road, but the Irish went down 1-2. There were two more caps in the US Nike Cup as the Republic gave him his run-on debut in a 1-1 draw with USA on 6th June 2000 and he scored his first and only International goal in a 2-1 win over South Africa when he scored in the forty-third minute to draw the scores level at the Giants Stadium, New Jersey five days later. He was a half-time substitute for his Leeds teammate Ian Harte for his fourth cap in a 2-2 draw with Croatia at Landsdowne Road on 15th August 2001 and his fifth came on 6th October 2001 as an eighty-fifth minute replacement for Kevin Kilbane, then of Sunderland, as the Republic beat Cyprus 4-0 in a Group Two World Cup Qualifier. The win booked the Republic's place in the play-off against Iran. McCarthy's men beat the Iranians 2-1 on aggregate, but McPhail did not make the squad for the finals as injury ruined his 2001-02 season. He was again a substitute in his next appearance as he replaced Mark Kinsella, then of Charlton Athletic, at half-time, in a 3-0 win over Finland at the Olympic Stadium, Helsinki on 21st August 2002. He started his seventh game at the Apostolos Nikolaidis, Athens as the Irish played a 0-0 draw with Greece on 20th November 2002. After David O’Leary left Leeds the club went on to have several different managers over the next few years and due to injuries he failed to break into the Leeds first team first under Terry Venables and later Peter Reid. During this period he spent time on loan at Millwall, where he got sent off in his first game against Sheffield Wednesday in a 1-2 home defeat on 16th March 2002 and only had three games for the Lions before returning to Elland Road, after playing his final game in a 0-1 away loss to Gillingham on 24th March. He next went on loan to Nottingham Forest, where he joined up with his former Leeds Academy boss, Paul Hart, who was well aware of his talent. He made his debut for Forest on 27th August 2003 in a 3-1 away win at Coventry City. He had fourteen League, of which one was as a substitute, and two League Cup games in the three months and this gave him some much needed first team games, until he played his final game for them in a 2-2 away draw with Wigan Athletic on 22nd November 2003. It was while on loan to Forest that he was recalled to the Irish squad and he managed four minutes as a replacement for Gary Breen, then of Sunderland, in a 2-2 draw with Turkey at Landsdowne Road on 8th September 2003 and just prior to his return to Elland Road he got his ninth cap as a seventy-third minute substitute for Andy Reid, then a teammate of his at Nottingham Forest, in a 0-0 draw with Canada at Landsdowne Road on 18th November 2003. It had looked as if McPhail was about to make his move to Nottingham Forest permanent, but the appointment of Eddie Gray as the Leeds Manager saw him recall the Irishman back to Elland Road as the Scotsman tried to rely on the players who were tried and trusted in the Leeds tradition. Unfortunately for McPhail and Leeds things did not go to Gray's plans and Leeds were relegated. On 29th May 2004 McPhail played his tenth and final game at the Valley in a 0-3 loss to Nigeria in the Unity Cup. After losing their EPL status Leeds were forced to get rid of the higher paid players and McPhail was given a free transfer to Barnsley on 5th July 2004. During his time at Leeds McPhail took part in the club's Champions League Semi-Final run, taking part in memorable games against the likes of Barcelona and playing well against Lazio at Elland Road. After making his Barnsley debut in a 1-1 away draw at Milton Keynes Dons on 7th August 2004, he went on to spend two years at Barnsley where he was a vital part of the squad and was pivotal to the team that gained promotion to the CCCL via the League One play-offs. His final game for Barnsley saw win a penalty shootout by 4-3 after they had drawn 2-2 with Swansea City, after extra-time, in the League One Play-off Final at Wembley on 27th May 2006. Had he stayed with Barnsley he would have been playing in the Championship the following year but instead he opted to leave the club. In his time at Oakwell, he played seventy League games, including four as a substitute, and scored four times. He also made two appearances in the FA Cup, three games in the League Cup, one as a substitute, one in the Football League Trophy and three more in the League One play-offs. Due to being out of contract he attracted interest from teams all over the Football League but on 14th June 2006 he signed for CCCL side Cardiff City on a free transfer. He was seen as a replacement for Jason Koumas when the club failed to secure his permanent transfer from West Bromwich Albion after he had spent the previous year on loan at Ninian Park. He made his Cardiff debut on 5th August 2006 against his former side Barnsley in a 2-1 win at Oakwell and during his first season at Cardiff, he showed his potential, being ever-present in the starting line-up and in July 2007 he was rewarded with a new four-year contract at the club. His form was such that, while he had not represented the Republic of Ireland since the match against Nigeria, in 2004, he had publicly declared his hopes of returning to the international scene. In October 2006 he was named in the Ireland ‘B’ squad for a match against Scotland ‘B’and captained the side in a 0-0 draw at Dalymount Park on 14th November 2006. Manager David Jones continued to show faith in the midfielder when, at the start of the 2007-08 season, he made McPhail temporary captain in the absence of normal captain Darren Purse and vice-captain Ricardo Scimeca. He also further extended his contract in August 2007 until June 2011. On 27th October 2007 he finally broke his scoring drought for Cardiff, in his fifty-fifth League game, in a 1-1 draw at home to Scunthorpe United. He went on to top the one hundred appearances for the Bluebirds and captained them at Wembley in the 2008 FA Cup Final when they went down 1-0 to Portsmouth. In May 2008, new Irish Manager Giovanni Trapattoni selected McPhail for his first squad for the friendly games against Serbia and Columbia, but he did not play. Although he did not make the pitch he did play against Lagos on 19th May 2008 when the team were in Training on the Portuguese Algarve, giving McPhail the message that at the age of twenty-eight he was still on Trappatoni's radar to resurrect his International career. He suffered from disciplinary problems in the 2008-09 season which resulted in him missing several games and he lost his place in the Cardiff team for two months. He did not regain it until near the end of the season. His 2009-10 season was badly affected by a series of injuries and a suspension after being sent off against Swansea City and later Reading. In October 2010 his contract was extended until June 2013. He still suffered from injuries and was also diagnosed with lymphoma in November 2010, but had battled his way back to play thirty-one games in the 2010-11 season. It was similar in the 2011-12 season when he again battled illness and injuries to play twenty-seven games in total and was in the team at season's end when they were beaten by West Ham United in the Play-off Semi-Finals. He was elected clubman of the year at the end of the season. Now in the final year of his contract, he found himself on the outer as Manager Malky MacKay made him available for Loan. He was released at the end of the season. His record with Cardiff was three League goals from one hundred and sixty-seven starts and nineteen from the bench, while in the F.A. Cup he made eleven starts and one game from the bench as well as thirteen starts and three games from the bench in the League Cup without scoring. He also played in the three play-off games in 2011-12 as Blackpool defeated Cardiff 3-2 in the final to gain promotion and one start and one game from the bench in the 2011-12 playoffs, when they were eliminated by West Ham United. On 20th September 2013 McPhail joined Championship side Sheffield Wednesday on a short-term contract until January 2014. He made his debut for the Owls in a 1-4 defeat at St Andrew's by Birmingham City the following day and maintained his position the following week as Wednesday went down 0-1 at Hillsborough to Doncaster Rovers.

League 52/263
F.A. Cup 30
League Cup 2/40
Europe 15/50