‘Career defining Goals’ – Leicester City’s Matt Elliott

Former Leicester player Matt ElliottIn an era when football matches are a constant part of life, cup fixtures still bring that little extra sparkle to the minds of players and fans alike. In the Capital One Cup this season, that sparkle has often translated into goal-scoring frenzies, and on the odd, special occasions, it produces a memorable solo performance from a player who may not always be the centre of attention. In this series, FFC takes a look at some stellar one-man displays…

The peak of Matt Elliott`s career came in the 2000 League Cup Final when his two goals in the 2-1 victory over Tranmere Rovers not only earned him his place in Leicester City folklore but also in Wembley history.

It was the first time since the final became a one-off game that a centre half scored twice. It remains a record and because it was the last League Cup Final before Wembley was bulldozed, it is one that will always belong to Matt Elliott.

It was City`s third final in four years and their second in a row and Matt`s goals were almost identical. Just short of the half hour, Leicester won a corner and when Steve Guppy swung the ball in Elliott rose, near the penalty spot and powered a header goalwards. The ball struck the bar, bounced down on the line and spun into the goal to give Martin O`Neill`s team the lead.

Tranmere equalised in the 77th minute through former Leicester player David Kelly. His near post shot not only gave the First Division underdogs hope but was Kelly`s eighth goal of that competition and saw him finish top scorer in the 1999-2000 League Cup.

Rovers` joy was short lived however, and it was almost a case of de ja vu four minutes later when Guppy swung another corner in and his skipper rose, on the six yard box, to head his second goal.

Matt led Leicester up the steps to become the last League Cup winners at the original Wembley. He also picked up the Man of the Match Award to cap the best day of his career.

Born in Wandsworth, London, Matt began his football career in non-league with Leatherhead and Epsom and Newell before joining Charlton Athletic in 1988.Unable to break through at the Valley, Matt dropped down the football pyramid to Torquay United. After three seasons at Plainmoor he joined Scunthorpe and spent just 18 months there before he made the move to Oxford United. Matt`s performances in Oxford`s run to promotion as runners-up in the Second Division in 1996 finally gave Matt his dream of Premier League football.

Leicester City manager Martin O`Neill paid £1.6 million for the defender early the following year and that remains the highest transfer fee received by Oxford. Matt helped Leicester to reach the 1999 League Cup Final but they were beaten 1-0 by Tottenham. But the following year City returned to win the competition against Tranmere.

That final proved to be Martin O`Neill`s swansong as he departed for Celtic and could have been Elliott`s too as O`Neill immediately tried to sign his former skipper for £3.5 million. Elliot however, agreed a new contract with Leicester where he remained until 2005.

The end of his career was accelerated by a serious knee injury though he still managed a brief loan spell with Ipswich before quitting in January 2005.

Though born in England, Matt was eligible to play for Scotland and made his international debut against France in November 1997. In total he won 18 caps, 16 as a starter, and scored one goal, a header against San Marino on 7th October 2000 in a 2-0 win.

In 2008 Matt began a short career in non-league football and had several assistant manager jobs before opening the Matt Elliott Football Development Scheme in Leicestershire in 2011.