It was always going to be a tough ask for Paul Rachubka to follow in the footsteps of Kasper Schmeichel.
The Danish goalkeeper’s departure to Leicester City in 2011 left Leeds United needing to bring in an experienced replacement.
On the face of things, Rachubka seemed like the ideal signing at the time as he had played an integral role in helping Blackpool achieve promotion from the Championship in 2009. Therefore, when he moved to Elland Road on a free transfer, the expectancy was high for him amongst supporters.
However, the American-born player’s time at Leeds ended up being disastrous. After starting the season as back-up to Andy Lonergan, Rachubka has handed his opportunity to impress after his rival suffered an injury during a 3-0 win at Doncaster Rovers. In his first four full appearances for the Whites, he failed to keep a single clean-sheet with a number of shaky moments increasing the pressure on him to succeed. Whereas some players rise to the occasion under this circumstance, Rachubka unfortunately did the opposite, producing a performance against his former side Blackpool which ultimately caused his career to spiral.
With Leeds already a goal down at Elland Road, the former Huddersfield Town loanee failed to hold onto a routine strike which culminated in defender Tom Lees being sent-off for handling the ball on the line in an attempt to prevent Ludovic Sylvestre adding to the Seasiders’ lead. The resulting penalty was scored by Jonjo Shelvey before Rachubka’s night got even worse.
After spilling another tame shot, he presented Shelvey with a golden opportunity to add to his tally which he duly took. The club’s supporters had understandably seen enough and then-manager Simon Grayson decided to substitute Rachubka at half-time for Alex Cairns.
This disastrous 45 minutes proved to be the final time that the keeper would represent Leeds as he would spend the two years on loan at the likes of Tranmere Rovers, Accrington Stanley and Leyton Orient before eventually joining Oldham Athletic on a permanent deal. Although he demonstrtaed a brief resurgence in form for the Latics, it proved to be a false dawn as he failed to hold down a regular spot at Boundary Park.
Two underwhelming spells at Crewe Alexandra and Bolton Wanderers would follow for Rachubka before he made the switch to the Indian Super League in 2017 to join Kerala Blasters.
After 12 appearances for the side, the 37-year-old was released last year and has since announced his retirement, bringing an end to a roller-coaster of a career which ultimately stalled when he made the ill-fated decision to join Leeds.