Nottingham-born Leon Best began his career as a junior at Notts County before signing as a trainee with Southampton, going on to make 19 appearances for the Saints over the course of three years. During his stint at St Mary’s, the forward predominantly spent his formative years out on loan, having spells at Queens Park Rangers, Sheffield Wednesday (twice), Bournemouth and Yeovil Town.
Having hit 10 goals in 15 games for the Glovers during his three-month loan spell in the 2006/07 season, Best returned to Southampton, scoring four goals during the league run in as the Saints made the Championship play-off semi-finals, losing on penalties to Derby County, before joining Coventry City in the summer.
Best went on to make 104 appearances for the Sky Blues, hitting 23 goals in a two-and-a half year spell, leaving in February 2010 to join fellow Championship side Newcastle United, who were then managed by current Albion boss Chris Hughton.
Following Newcastle’s promotion to the Premier League at the end of the 2009/10 campaign, the striker remained at the Magpies for a further two years, hitting a hat-trick on his first Premier League start against West Ham during the Toon Army’s 5-0 win in January 2011. He was also on the scoresheet during Newcastle’s memorable comeback against Arsenal that season, hitting the third goal as United came from 4-0 down to draw 4-4.
After scoring 10 goals in 46 games for the Magpies, Best returned to the Championship as Blackburn Rovers purchased the striker for an estimated £3 million in the summer of 2012, with Rovers looking to bounce straight back up to the Premier League following their relegation in the previous season.
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However, life at Ewood Park got off to a bad start when the striker injured his anterior cruciate ligament just a month after he signed for the club, delaying his debut until March 2013 when he came off the bench in the 80th minute against Bolton Wanderers.
After making his full debut for Rovers five days later, the forward went on to feature eight times as Blackburn finished the season in 17th place.
Best’s first goal for Blackburn came in the form of an 89th-minute equaliser at Derby County the opening day of the 2013/14 season. He scored his second and final goal for Rovers in a 3-1 win at Bournemouth in September 2013, but after falling out of favour the striker was loaned out to Sheffield Wednesday in February 2014; his third loan spell at Hillsborough.
His time at the Hillsbrough outfit was a fruitful one, finding the net five times in 16 games including a 90th-minute winner against Oscar Garcia’s Albion in March last year.
Best then returned to Blackburn in the summer but was loaned out to Derby County on a season-long deal for the current campaign, making 15 appearances off the bench for the Rams before joining Albion in January 2015.
During his career the striker has also made seven appearances for the Republic of Ireland after making his debut in a 1-1 draw with Nigeria in 2009. Best’s last international appearance came in the 2-0 friendly defeat to Brazil in 2010.