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Thursday 09 January 2014

On this day in 1997: Leeds sign centre-half Molenaar

Looking back at Premier League history, we recall Dutch defender Robert Molenaar's Leeds move

  • Powerful defender Robert Molenaar was nicknamed 'The Terminator' by the Leeds fans

Premierleague.com rifles through the annals of the Barclays Premier League to find significant events.

9 January 1997 - Molenaar makes move to Leeds United

Leeds United signed Dutch centre-half Robert Molenaar from Volendam for £1m.

The club were 15th in the Barclays Premier League at the time and had failed to win for six matches so his arrival was timely.

"He looks a very fit boy and that was one of the aspects I looked at in him," said manager George Graham. "He has been playing at a much slower pace of football. I think a lot of foreign players get a bit surprised by the hectic pace of the English game but he looks as if he can handle it."

Molenaar said: "Back home a lot of people always told me 'you should go to England - it's written all over you'. Now it’s happened, I hope I make my expectations back home true."

The 27-year-old made an immediate impact by helping the side to keep clean sheets in each of his first five matches and in all they did not concede in nine of his 14 appearances that season.

Molenaar was nicknamed 'The Terminator' by Leeds fans, who admired his total commitment to the cause.

In September 1997 he scored a memorable goal against Blackburn Rovers, which he volleyed into the top of the net from a corner, but he was in and out of the side that season.

In 1998/99 he was first choice until suffering ligament damage at Arsenal just before Christmas which ruled him out for nearly two years. By that time he had left Elland Road, with 60 full and five substitute appearances to his name, and made the short journey to Bradford City.

He made his debut against Coventry City in December 2000 but could not help the Bantams avoid relegation from the top-flight at the end of the season.

He was a regular in the Championship for the club over the next two seasons before leaving in the summer of 2003 to return to the Netherlands. Molenaar joined RBC Roosendaal and played there for four seasons before retiring.

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Key Points

  • Premierleague.com looks back through the annals of history of the competition
  • A memorable event or match from each day of the year will be selected
  • We remember when Dutch defender Robert Molenaar joined Leeds United