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
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2004-17 - Down Among The Deadmen
100 Greatest LUFC Players Ever
Greatest Leeds United Games
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Nicholls: Kevin John Richard (Kevin)

2006-2007 (Leeds Player Details)(Player Details)


Born: Newham, London: 02-01-1979

Debut: v Sunderland (h) (Substitute): 13-09-2006

5’11” 12st 4lb (2006)

Nicholls began as a trainee at Charlton Athletic and he made his debut in the 1996-97 season as a sixty-seventh minute substitute for Steven Brown in a 1-2 defeat at Ipswich Town on 20th September 1996 and his full debut in a 2-1 win at Burnley in the League Cup just four days later. He made only spasmodic appearances during the season, but he scored a spectacular long-range goal in the opening minute of his first full League game in a 2-2 draw with Barnsley at The Valley on 15th February 1997. He began the 1997-98 season as a substitute in the first three games, before starting the next two, but he then featured only twice more on the bench before missing the rest of the season with a knee injury. He failed to make an appearance for Charlton during the 1998-99 season and moved to Brighton & Hove Albion on loan on 26th February 1999, scoring on his debut with a goal in the seventieth minute in a 1-2 defeat by Leyton Orient at the Priestfield Stadium on 27th February 1999. After four games with the Seagulls, he returned to Charlton on 14th March 1999, but, after scoring once in a total of sixteen appearances, but ten of which were as a substitute, in all competitions for The Valiants, he joined Wigan Athletic on 25th June 1999 for a fee of £250,000 as a replacement for the departed Paul Rogers. While at the Valley he had gained international recognition and he captained the England Under-Eighteen team, Under-Nineteens and Under-Twenties. He captained the Under-Twenty team at the 1999 World Cup in Nigeria in April 1999 but it was no great triuph as the much vaunted team finished bottom of their group with three defeats and not a single goal scored. The first game was on 4th April 1999 at the Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano and he played eighty-four minutes before being replaced by Neil Murphy as USA scored the only goal of the game in the twelfth minute. Four days later at the same venue a Richard Cooper own goal after sixty-three minutes was enough to see Cameroon take full points, as Nicholls gave way to James Chambers in the final minute. On 11th April 1999 at Abubarkar Tafawa Balewa Stadium, Bauchi in front of 9,000 people Japan were easy winners, with goals from Tatsuya Ishikawa, six minutes before half-time and Shiji Ono, three minutes after it, and England were duly eliminated. If that was no bad enough, there was further personal ignominy for Nicholls, as after being booked in the twenty-third minute, he received a second in the final minute and was sent off. Because of his perceived International potential there were incentives added to the transfer fee, whereby the fee would increase to £600,000 after a certain number of first-team appearances and there would be a further fee should he be sold on to another club at a profit. The 1999-00 season saw Nicholls began to establish himself as a regular first-team player, although injuries restricted him to eight appearances with the Latics, being injured when making his debut in a 2-0 win over Cardiff City on 23rd October 1999 and having to be substituted at half-time and his next game was not until a 2-0 home win over Oxford on 8th April the following year. He made twenty-six appearances in the 2000-01 season for Wigan, a side who were successful and reached the Second Division play-offs. After a 0-0 draw in the semi-final first leg with Reading, he gave Wigan the lead at The Madejski Stadium, only for Reading to score two late goals and reach the play-off final. He was a Roy Keane type of player who liked to get stuck in and make important tackles in the middle of the park. This caused him to have his share of injury problems while with Wigan Athletic, but former manager Steve Bruce gave him a chance in the first-team, where he produced some outstanding performances. At Wigan he made twenty-eight League appearances, of which nine were as substitute, plus two FA Cup and four League Cup starts and scoring once in the League Cup. Nicholls joined Luton Town from Wigan Athletic on 9th August 2001 for a fee that could rise to £150,000 depending upon appearances. He signed a three-year deal at Kenilworth Road, with the initial fee being just £25,000 as he became manager Joe Kinnear's fifth signing of the 2001-02 pre-season. A fierce and competitive midfielder, Hatters manager Joe Kinnear was hoping that Nicholls could add some steel to his side. Nicholls immediately forced his way into Luton's side, playing as a central midfielder, and he was a pivotal member of what eventually became a promotion-winning team. He made his Luton debut on 11th August 2001, the opening day of the season, in a 2-0 win at Carlisle, and he quickly became a firm fans' favourite with his crunching tackles, never-say-die attitude and general nastiness towards the opposition! Receiving a yellow card in the win at Brunton Park, it was pretty evident to all Luton supporters that he would have certain disciplinary problems during the season - and this was further demonstrated when he was sent-off for two bookable offences in the next match, his home debut, in a 2-1 win over Cheltenham. A virtual ever-present during the season unless dictated otherwise by suspensions and injury, he scored his first goal for Luton in a 1-1 home draw with Oxford United on 9th August 2001, and he went on to score a further five times during the campaign, which included four of the goals from the penalty spot, as he became the Hatters' penalty-taker. A consistent performer who wore his heart on his sleeve, he also became the team captain, his aggression, influence and determination an example to all of the other Luton players. Surprisingly, for a tough-tackler and ball-winner, he wasn't sent-off again during the rest of the campaign, the dismissal against Cheltenham the only marching orders he received throughout the season. He was, however, shown a yellow card on no less than sixteen occasions! Certainly not only a ball-winner, and very much able to play the passing game and score the odd goal or two, he was instrumental in the season, which saw Luton earn their first promotion for twenty years and finish second in Division Three with ninety-seven points. He made a total of forty-three appearances, forty-two of them coming in the League, and also scored from the spot as Luton beat Plymouth 2-0 at Kenilworth Road on 2nd February 2002 in a promotion six-pointer. Nicholls once again had a solid 2002-03 season as his tough-tackling and ability to ‘get stuck in’ continued to earn him a reputation as a fans’ favourite, as well as earning him somewhat of a reputation with the referees! His single dismissal of the campaign came in a 0-0 home draw with Queen’s Park Rangers in late November when the Hatters also had Steve Howard sent off but still managed to battle to earning a point. He made a total of thirty-nine appearances during the course of the season (thirty-six of those appearances coming in the League) and he continued to be the club’s penalty taker, netting three of his five goals during the season from twelve-yards and not missing a single one of his spot-kicks. However, he also showed that he had the ability to emulate fellow midfielder Matthew Spring’s long-range shooting when he netted from twenty-yards in a 2-3 home loss to Mansfield Town and then with a scintillating free-kick straight into the top corner from fully twenty-five-yards in a 3-2 home win over Northampton Town. Also given the responsibility of corner kick taker by Kinnear, he was not only the captain of the side, but also became the set-piece specialist. Nicholls had another good season during the 2003-04 campaign as he helped the club to a tenth placed finish, a good outcome considering the club had spent the entire season in administrative receivership. He remained club captain under new boss Mike Newell, although on the field he was disappointed to begin the season on the right-hand side of midfield as opposed to his preferred role of a ball-winning central midfielder. Appearing in that position for the first five matches of the campaign, Kevin netted the first of his two goals during the season from the penalty spot in a 1-2 home loss to eventually relegated Grimsby Town, but, unfortunately in the next match, a 0-2 defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion, he suffered an injury and it forced him to miss the next five months of action. He was thereafter a regular in the side for the remainder of the season, and following an injury to regular central midfielders Matthew Spring and Paul Hughes, Kevin ended the season in his preferred central midfield role and looked a better player and more relaxed. He was also sent off once in the season, for elbowing Nathan Lowndes in a 1-1 home draw with eventual champions Plymouth Argyle. Appearing in twenty-three matches in all competitions during the season, he had made over one hundred appearances for the club in all competitions by the end of the 2003-04 season. Nicholls had a superb season with Luton Town during the 2004-05 campaign, arguably his best season with the Hatters. Once again the skipper of the side, he led by example throughout the season, his never-say-die attitude and determination shining through and he weighed in with several important goals as the Hatters ran away with the League One Championship. Appearing in forty-four of Luton’s forty-six League matches during the season, Nicholls secured his best-ever campaign on the goal front, bagging a very impressive twelve League goals and fourteen goals in all competitions from central midfield. Not only did Nicholls’ technical ability seem to be much better, but his discipline was also greatly improved as he received just seven yellow cards and one red card during the season. He was rewarded for his magnificent campaign by winning the Player of the Year and Supporters’ Player of the Year awards. He was also one of six Luton Town players named in the PFA League One Team of the Season. Nicholls had another superb season with Luton Town during the 2005-06 campaign as he captained the Hatters to a tenth placed finish. It was an excellent achievement for theirfirst season back at Championship level. Although looking a classier player than he had when initially joining the Hatters, he still maintained that tenacity in his game, earning six yellow cards and also being sent off in a 0-2 loss in November 2005 at Norwich City. Missing over a month of action through injury towards the end of the season, he showed his determination and willingness to play when he battled back to start the final game of the season at Burnley. A real fans’ favourite, Nicholls made thirty-one League appearances during the season, scoring five goals and the Hatters captain had made one hundred and seventy-five League appearances for Luton Town, including two as a substitute, scoring thirty goals. He also appeared five times and scored twice in the FA Cup and scored once in six starts in the League Cup as well as one other game. However, much to the disappointment of the Luton Town fans, and coming just a day after striker Steve Howard was sold to Derby County for £1 million, Nicholls was also sold. Signing a three-year deal with Leeds United on 26th July 2006, he left Kenilworth Road for a £700,000 transfer fee after being one of the most popular Luton Town players of the decade. His time at Leeds United was highly unsuccessful and in his first training session with Leeds, he suffered a knee injury but the club hoped to have him back within three months. His quick rehabilitation allowed him to make his debut for the club as a half-time substitute for Eddie Lewis in United’s match against Sunderland on 13th September 2006, one and a half months before he was due back. He picked up another injury on 30th September 2006 against West Bromwich Albion, damaging his medial knee ligaments, which kept him out until December. On 26th October 2006, he was made the new captain of Leeds United Football Club by new manager Dennis Wise, with Shaun Derry being appointed his deputy. He returned from injury on 16th December 2006, starting in the 1-0 loss at Ipswich Town. This was his first game as captain of Leeds and it ended with a red card in the dying minutes. Manager, Wise, was adamant that Nicholls should not have been sent off but the club eventually decided not to appeal against the decision, so he missed United’s following three matches. He returned to the side once his suspension had been served in a 2-1 victory over Coventry City on New Years' Day in what some Leeds fans described as a sensational performance. However, by February 2007, many fans were booing his performances. On 3rd March 2007 he was dropped for United’s home match against Sheffield Wednesday. In his post-match interview, Dennis Wise said that Nicholls had asked to leave the club and return to his former club Luton Town. However, Wise stated that he would not allow him to return to Luton unless the original fee of £700,000 was paid back to Leeds. It was also stated that Nicholls had been stripped of his captaincy. He became somewhat of a hate figure amongst Leeds fans. It was then reported in May 2007 that Nicholls and new captain Jonathan Douglas had featured in a training ground bust up with Dennis Wise. Blighted by controversy, he was eventually sold to Preston North End for £750,000 on 29th June 2007, after just thirteen appearances for Leeds. Still a massively popular figure with the Luton Town fans, there were hopes that he would return to Kenilworth Road, but with the Hatters unable to meet his wage demands and having been relegated to League One, he decided to make the move to Deepdale. Nicholls officially moved to Preston on 3rd July 2007 due to Leeds' administration forcing them to delay all trading until that date. Nicholls' spell at Preston was also unsuccessful. He was a regular under Paul Simpson in the first few months of the season, but since his departure and the arrival of Alan Irvine, he was out of the team through injury and also that he was behind Paul McKenna, Darren Carter and new signing Richard Chaplow in the pecking order. He left Preston North End on 2nd August 2008 after an agreement was reached to dissolve his contract, on the same day Nicholls signed a three year contract with Luton Town at half-time during a pre-season friendly between Luton and Brighton. While at Deepdale he made seventeen League starts and played one more from the bench, he made one substitute appearance in the F.A. Cup and one start in the League Cup all without scoring. Following his return to Luton, Nicholls became the club captain. He missed much of the 2008-09 season as a result of recurring injury problems and did not play until the latter part of the season,and then received a five match ban for applauding Luton fans who had thrown missiles in a game at Valley Parade. On 5th April 2009, Nicholls captained Luton to a 3–2 victory over Scunthorpe United at Wembley Stadium in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final, picking up the man-of-the-match award for his performance in the heart of midfield. He also played for Luton on 13th April 2009 when they lost their Football League Status in their 0–0 draw with Chesterfield. He played twenty-three League games in 2009-10 until in March 2010 he had to have surgery for a persistant knee problem and was ruled out for up to eight months. At the end of the 2009-10 season he had made thirty-nine starts and three substitute appearances in the League, six starts in the F.A. Cup, two in the League Cup and one in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy and has still to open his goalscoring tally for Luton since rejoining them in July 2008. It was later revealed by Luton director Gary Sweet that Nicholls had deliberately downplayed the seriousness of his injury to lead the team, "playing through excruciating pain and ultimately risking his long term health". Ultimately, this injury proved to be the end of his playing career. On 27 August 2010, after communicating his feelings of not wanting to take money from a club that could not afford it, without being able to give the club any performance on the pitch due to his injury. It was mutually agreed that his contract be cancelled and he retired from football. He joined the coaching staff of Rushden and Diamonds on 6th November 2010, but when the club went into liqiudation in June 2011 he found himself without a job. He presently works for a football agency, Elite Management Agency.

League 12/10
F.A. Cup 10
League Cup 10