Tomas Brolin cost Leeds United £4.5 million from Parma in 1995, the wise man that decided to splash the cash on the Swede was George Graham. It must be said that before the move Brolin was a fantastic player, most noted for helping Sweden finish third in the 1994 World Cup. Surely he could not fail… but he did, in emphatic style.
At the time of the transfer Brolin was regarded as one of the best players on the planet, while playing for Italian side Parma, he was one of the instigators of he most successful periods in the clubs history, lifting a Coppa Italia, UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, UEFA Super Cup and UEFA Cup.
As well as USA ’94, he competed at the 1990 World Cup in Italy was also a beaten semi finalist in Euro ’92. He did however break his foot in a European Championship qualifier against Hungary in November 1994; this kept him out of the game for about 5 months, and is thought to have effectively ended his career.
Leeds signed Brolin a year after this injury. He started reasonably well, with his standout performance coming against Manchester United, in a 3-1 victory on Christmas Eve 1995, where he played a part in all three goals for the Elland Road outfit.
This was to be the his Leeds United career highpoint, after a 5-0 drubbing from Liverpool, Brolin felt the wrath of manager Howard Wilkinson who bemoaned the players lack of defensive ability. He was then in and out of the side for the rest of the season.
After 20 games and 4 goals with Leeds he decided to find a new club, he eventually found himself back at Parma but only on loan. After this loan spell his contract was rescinded with Leeds and found himself at Crystal Palace, a little on the overweight side. After only 13 matches he was released in 1998.
He is often labeled one of the worst players ever to grace the Premier League, and rightly so. The foot injury he suffered resulted in a loss of fitness that he never regained, and jibes of the Swede becoming a little ‘tubby’ were commonplace.
After retiring from football aged 28 Tomas Brolin opened a restaurant in Stockholm called Undici, meaning eleven in Italian and the number he wore at Parma. He is also a player on the World Series Poker Tour as of 2006.
How a career can reach such a high then come crashing down is anyone’s guess, but Brolin is one of the most expensive flops in Premier League history.
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