On 12th November 2003, the future looked grim for Nowich City
fans. Peter Crouch and Kevin
Harper had already returned to Aston Villa and Portsmouth
respectively. The third of their loan signings, Darren
Huckerby, was due to return to Manchester City the following
day after the clash with Cardiff.
Whilst Norwich fans would liked to seen Huckerby or Crouch signed
permanently, Nigel Worthington sprung
a surprise by announcing the capture of Peterborough's pacy leading
goalscorer Leon McKenzie for an undisclosed fee, believed to be
initially worth £325,000. This signing was made despite
competition from Wigan who had a £400,000 bid accepted but
rejected by McKenzie who didn't want to move up north. Reading
also tried to secure Leon's signature whilst there was talk of
Leicester offering a pre-contract deal paving the way for a free
transfer to the Walkers Stadium in the summer. In the end, Worthington
sold Norwich to McKenzie with the latter signing a three and a
half year contract.
Passing his medical, he was presented to the media on Monday
15th November 2003."It's all happened so quickly - it's
an absolutely fantastic move," said McKenzie, part of
the south London boxing family that produced Clint and Duke McKenzie."Everything
about the club looks first-class," added Norwich's latest
arrival, whose 59 goals in 109 League and Cup starts for Peterborough
made him such a man to watch.
Born in Croydon in May 1978, he began his career with his local
club making his debut for Crystal Palace during 1995/96. He scored
7 goals in 85 appearances for Palace. He had loan spells with
Fulham (3 appearances, O goals) and Peterborough (14 games, 8
goals). The latter endeared him to London Road and vice versa
leading the way to a a transfer to Peterborough in the summer
He netted 13 league goals for Barry Fry's side in his first season
at London Road and 18 in the second. McKenzie's progress was destructed
by a serious ankle injury sustained during a pre-season friendly
against the Canaries during the summer of 2002. It kept him out
of action for the best part of six months, but he still managed
a respectable tally of five goals in his 11 league appearances.
In 2003/04 he has again been in excellent scoring form for a side
struggling near the foot of Division Two and had scored 10 goals
in 23 appearances in all competitions.
Leon made a stunning debut for the Canaries scoring twice in
the East Anglian Derby at Portman Road on December 21st. The 2-0
win took Norwich to the top of the Division One table. McKenzie's
next game was a 1-0 win over Forest on Boxing Day when new striking
partner Mathias Svensson scored. Two days later, Norwich won 4-0
at Derby with McKenzie scoring the fourth goal. His golas proved
vital in winning promotion to the Premiershp.
The News of the World speculated on 22nd May 2005 that
Charlton were preparing a £1.5million swoop for McKenzie
following Norwich's relegation. Wigan were also linked by the
meida but this was dismissed by Paul Jewell. Reading have also
Leon's 2005/6 season was plagued by injuries but he formed a
good partnership with Rob Earnshaw after returning from injury.
Norwich's formation for the beginning part of the 2006/7 season
saw Mckenzie relegated to the bench and so he submitted a transfer
request on 15th August 2006. This was rejected by Nigel Worthington
who later admitted he would accept the right price for Leon. Coventry
City were one of two clubs to make an offer. Leon eventually transfered
to the Sky Blues on the last day of the Transfer Window (31st
August 2006) for a fee that would rise to £1million.
Leon scored the 100th league goal of his career in Coventry's
2-0 win over Norwich on 9th August 2008
Plagued by injuries, Leon was given a short-term contract by
Coventry until the end of August 2009. When this wasn't renewed,
he signed for Charlton Athletic. He lasted one season at The Valley
before he was released. He had made 14 apearances for Charlton,
all as substitute, scoring once.
McKenzie signed for Northampton on 10th September 2010
Released by Northampton at the end of the 2010/11 season, he
moved into a music career and was working on releasing a single.
He said he hopes to do a project with cousin Ashley who was on
X-Factor, and is also looking at working with other hip-hop artists.
He describes his style as a fusion of RnB and pop, but also performs
Leon joined Luton on trial in the summer of 2011 featuring in
a 4-0 friendly win over Cambridge City but was not taken on. He
then signed for Kettering in early August 2011. Leon retired from
the professional game in December 2011.
On 21st February 2012, Leon was jailed for six months for perverting
the course of justice over a speeding ticket scam. He was arrested
and charged after false documents were sent to Northamptonshire
Police between February 2008 and January 2010. The letters, purporting
to be from a fictional garage in London, claimed McKenzies
car was off the road undergoing mechanical repairs when he was
caught speeding. When originally arrested on suspicion of perverting
the course of justice, the former Canaries striker made a full
confession on the understanding he would receive a caution. But
after a protracted series of court hearings, his caution was withdrawn
by Northamptonshire Police because it had been issued without
the case being referred to the Crown Prosecution Service, which
is compulsory for all indictable (Crown court) offences. The former
Norwich, Northampton and Crystal Palace player subsequently pleaded
guilty to the six charges, which relate to separate occasions
over a two-year period. Mckenzie said he was suffering from depression
around the time the offences were committed.
.In July 2012, he signed for non-leaguers Corby Town
In 2013, he took up professional boxing following in the footsteps
of dad Clinton who is a former British and European champion while
Uncle Duke conquered the world at fly and bantamweight. It
is a passion of mine that I have always had in my life,
says Leon. It is in my blood, of course, coming from
a boxing family. I also think I am good at this. When I say I
am good I do not mean that in a big-headed way. What I mean is
if I wasnt confident of stepping in that ring I wouldnt
do it. I have a lot of good people around me and the opportunity
came to me. You can see by the way I train I am taking it seriously
and I want to put in a good performance on June 29. Its
another dream come true and I cant complain at the direction
my life is going. To get the opportunity to be a boxer is overwhelming
in itself, but York Hall is where it all happens. There is a sentimental
feeling involved because my Dad made his professional debut there.
I have been training really hard for a number of months now and
hopefully people will respect my ability to box. Leon's
first fight is scheduled for 29th June 2013 at the iconic York
Hall in Bethnal Green