Ahead of Queens Park Rangers' Championship clash with Leeds this weekend, Matt Smith has admitted that his departure from the Whites was a major surprise, but insisted that it does not taint his view of his time at Elland Road, the Yorkshire Evening Post reports.
Smith was something of a surprise addition to the Leeds squad when he was signed from Oldham Athletic in 2013, but he certainly won the supporters over while he was in Yorkshire, forming a brilliant partnership with Ross McCormack and actually boasting a fairly impressive strike-rate considering that a large number of his appearances came from the substitutes' bench.
If his arrival was a small surprise, it was nothing compared to the shock when it was announced one year later that he had been sold to Championship rivals Fulham in the same summer that McCormack had also left for Craven Cottage, leaving Leeds with an attack - barring Steve Morison - that consisted of players who had only arrived during that same window.
And as he prepares to face Leeds at Loftus Road on Saturday, Smith admitted that Massimo Cellino's decision to sell him to the Cottagers came as as big a surprise to him as it did to the supporters.
“One minute you’re wanted, the next you’re not but for no apparent reason. The whole thing was weird. It took ages, literally months, to get that contract agreed. I signed it and then three days later I got a call to say the club wanted to sell me, with no real explanation.
“I wasn’t the finished article or anything close but I felt I’d done well, to say it was my first season in the Championship. But it really doesn’t taint the time I had at Leeds. It was character-building and that year set me up to play in the Championship. That relationship doesn’t feel tainted.”
Smith may not have been the most prolific striker Leeds have had since falling out of the Premier League, but it could certainly be argued that it was only during Chris Wood's incredible run of form last season that the 28-year-old has not been missed by a large portion of the fans - and even then, he may have been a decent option to have had in the squad you feel.
But while Smith continues to be held in high regard by the Leeds fans, and it appears to be generally accepted that it was the wrong decision to sell him, they will be hoping that his performance on Saturday, in isolation, vindicates Cellino's opinion three years ago that letting him leave was the right call.