Leeds United had a close call with Joel Ekstrand after his Watford deal expired.

Swedish defender Joel Ekstrand has announced his retirement just aged 30, AIK Fotboll confirmed.

Ekstrand spent three years at Watford, featuring for the Hornets between 2013 and 2016.

After his contract at Watford expired three years ago he very nearly signed with Leeds United.

As a free agent he went to Leeds for a medical, before then owner Massimo Cellino refused to sanction a deal.

He was quoted by the Bristol Post: “The survey found that my knees looked different, which is obvious when one knee has been operated on for a cruciate ligament injury. They tried to use it against me.”

Ekstrand signed with Bristol City, but only managed to make two appearances before he was released.

Perhaps Leeds’ misgivings about his fitness were within reason?

Ekstrand’s career has been a slog since. He made only one appearance after signing a short term deal with Rotherham United, before heading back to Sweden with AIK.

He managed to make just two brief appearances for AIK, for a cumulative 10 minutes.

With just five appearances since Leeds declined to take up a move to sign him on a free, the Whites probably did make the right decision.

Ekstrand’s fate is a shame. It is for any player forced to retire early. 30 is very young and his last period of regular football came four years earlier.

At his peak he was a Sweden international, earning two caps, and he starred in Serie A with Udinese. He still achieved more than most.

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