Returning players: Leonardo Ulloa – Final word on football
Welcome to Last Word on the “Returning Players” series of football. In this edition we take a look at Leonard Ulloa.
Returnees – Leonardo Ulloa
First spell in Brighton
“Who is this man from Argentina?” Who is this man we all adore? Leonardo is his name and he scores one goal per game, and we won’t mention [Glenn] Murray more. This is the song that resonated around the Amex stadium during a first stay of 18 months on the south coast for Leonardo Ulloa.
You can appreciate the subtle irony of the lyrics now, as Albion fans were still in shock. Glenn murrayThe move from Crystal Palace at the time before he returned to the club and firmly established his legendary status at the club.
Nonetheless, it showed just how good an impression Ulloa has been in his relatively short first stint at the club – the Argentine has scored 26 goals in 58 appearances across all competitions.
Ulloa’s season and a half at Brighton proved to be a tumultuous time for the club, which included two managerial departures, two managerial appointments and two promotion near misses in the Championship play-offs.
Albion secured the services of the leader in January 2013 of Almeria for an undisclosed amount which would have been in the range of £ 2million, and he made a perfect start to life at the club with a goal on his debut against Arsenal.
Gus Poyet’s side gave the Gunners a real run for their money in a captivating FA Cup fourth round game, twice tying the scores against Arsene Wenger’s men with Ulloa securing that second equalizer in a valiant loss 3-2 at the Amex.
His first league goal came in an impressive 2-0 win away from league-winning Cardiff City and included an assist for Andrea Orlandi to break the deadlock in South Wales.
Ulloa then made history by scoring the Amex’s first-ever treble in an unmistakable 4-1 win over Huddersfield Town, before being loved even more by Brighton fans in the memorable 3-0 triumph against Crystal Palace.
It was the club’s first home win over their South London opponents in 25 years, and the Argentinian’s brace, along with David Lopez’s fantastic free-kick, ensured one of the most memorable wins in the Amex.
Another remarkable strike for Ulloa came in a 2-1 win over Leeds United in an incident-rich game at Elland Road to secure a play-off berth with a league game to go.
However, the season ended in play-off agony due to a 2-0 aggregate loss to Palace in the semi-finals, and Poyet’s acrimonious departure soon followed.
Oscar Garcia was recruited to replace Poyet that summer and Ulloa reaffirmed his role as the club’s main leader by scoring two goals in the club’s first league games – albeit in back-to-back 2-1 defeats to Leeds and Derby County respectively. .
Garcia’s side have struggled for consistency in the first half of the campaign and it may not be a coincidence that Ulloa was ruled out for two months with a broken foot.
Ulloa scored his first goals after returning from injury in a 3-2 boxing loss to Charlton Athletic and played his part as the Seagulls moved within striking distance of play-off spots with other goals against Doncaster Rovers and Wigan Athletic in the weeks that followed. monitoring.
History repeated itself in April of the same year when Ulloa found the net again against the future champions, doing better than his exploits against Cardiff the previous season by scoring twice in a superb victory 4-1 at Leicester City.
But the Argentinian’s piece de resistance in an Albion jersey collided with Nottingham Forest at the City Ground on May 3, 2014. The Seagulls were in danger of missing the play-offs with a score of 1-1 before stoppage time.
Brighton needed to improve Reading’s home result against Burnley in order to claim the final playoff spot. The Royals had won a 2-2 draw at Madejski Stadium, prompting a premature invasion of the pitch in Berkshire before word filtered through of the spectacular late winner Ulloa.
He led Craig Mackail-Smith’s cross at home in the second minute of the stoppage time to spark wild jubilation scenes in the East Midlands and set up a two-legged tie with Derby.
But the Rams won both games to secure an overall 6-2 victory and hand Albion to another championship football season, which ultimately drove Ulloa out the door.
Teams for which Ulloa has played between the two
The Seagulls faced another summer of upheaval with Garcia’s resignation. This led to the appointment of Sami Hyypia ahead of the Finn’s unfortunate six-month tenure.
Ulloa’s departure to Leicester was confirmed shortly after Hyypia’s arrival in what was then a record club transfer for the Foxes and the highest transfer fee Brighton has ever received for a player.
Those fees were estimated to be around £ 9million, which seemed like money well spent after the Argentine scored five times in his first five appearances for his new club. That included a goal in his debut in a 2-2 draw with Everton and a brace in a memorable 5-3 win over Manchester United.
Ulloa played a key role in the club great escape from relegation that season, scoring four goals in the club’s last eight games to propel them off the table to 14th place.
No one could predict what would happen next for Ulloa and Leicester. In probably the biggest shock in modern football, Leicester won the 2015/16 Premier League title, with Ulloa finding the net six times in 29 league appearances.
A total of 22 of those appearances came from the bench, with arguably the most notable of his goals in the form of a last-minute winner against Norwich City.
His last goals came in the form of a brace in a 4-0 win over Swansea City in April, as Claudio Ranieri’s side came closer to the most incredible achievement in club history.
But the following campaign was unforgettable for Ulloa and his Leicester career began to fall apart.
While his former club enjoyed an unforgettable 2016/17 campaign winning promotion to the Premier League, the leader has had a relatively poor season with the Foxes.
A lack of playing time and a slight injury limited his impact, meaning he has only scored once in 24 appearances across all competitions.
Back to Brighton
The 2017/18 campaign saw little change for Ulloa and he had to wait until December 9 for his first Premier League appearance this season – coming to play just one minute of a 3-2 win at Newcastle United as a replacement for Jamie Vardy .
Ulloa was found to be surplus to the needs of the East Midlands and ensured a return to the south coast in January 2018 on a loan contract that lasted until the end of the season.
Brighton faced a battle to stay in the Premier League and Chris Hughton brought him back to the Amex to beef up his attacking options.
But while Ulloa’s impact on his first spell at Brighton cannot be understated, it would be fair to say that his second hasn’t reached these heights.
In total, he made 12 appearances across all competitions and scored two goals – the first in a 3-1 FA Cup fifth round victory over Coventry City before scoring his only Premier League goal for the Seagulls in a 3-1 loss. to Manchester City once security is assured.
This turned out to be his last appearance in an Albion shirt and a return to Leicester followed when his loan contract expired.
Although he expressed his desire to join Brighton permanently this never happened and Ulloa ended up spending a year in Mexico with CG Pachuca before returning to Spain and joining the second division team Rayo. Vallecano.
Even though Ulloa has failed to regain the magic of his first spell, no Albion fan will ever forget his revealing contribution on his first spell at the club.