Date:Wednesday November 8 2006
Not that long ago, the mere mention of Leon Clarke's name at Molineux could be guaranteed to generate more negative vibes than an Andy Kaufman wrestle-fest.
Struggling to live up to his billing and his reserve goal scoring record, and seen by many as being not just surplus to requirement, but simply not required, Leon endured a passage of rites to rival any handed out by the Molineux throng for many a year.
Questions were asked of his temperament, his ability, his aptitude, almost every facet of his game, and his private life didn`t escape public scrutiny either.
Ironic, given the apparent private nature of the man.
But a flurry of goalmouth activity, yielding four goals in 3 matches has led to a quite remarkable turn around in many attitudes toward him.
And that hasn't gone unnoticed.
There have been a lot of things said about me in the past, suggesting that I haven't fulfilled my potential,'
'The fans have put the past behind them and they have been good to me, I'd like to thank them for that. I am really happy with everything at the moment.' he told the clubs official site this week.
Having raised the bar with a two braces in 3 fixtures, Leon has set himself two goals for the rest of the current season.
Racking up 15 goals as a personal tally, and outgunning Jay Bothroyd in the goal scoring stakes
'With the way things are going for me at the moment I have set myself a realistic target of hitting 14 or 15 goals by the end of the season.'
'If I could just get ten goals before Christmas then I'd be well on my way.'
'As long as I am in front of Jay in the goal scoring stakes then I will be happy!' he said.
An obvious confidence player, Leon partly attributes his current vein of form to the man who has managed to turn the rag taggle squad he inherited, into what some are calling genuine promotion contenders, current boss Mick McCarthy.
'The manager came in and wiped the slate clean and has been helping me make sure I do fulfill that potential.
'He has worked on my fitness and certain aspects of my game.
'He has brought the best out of me so far, but I feel I can still work to do better.
'It is to do with confidence as well, and my confidence levels are high at the moment.'
As well they might be.
There was a time when his name was booed eagerly down at Molineux, but those days seem to be long passed.
Applauded for his efforts last Saturday on his second half substitution, Leon is confounding his harshest critics, and in doing so taking a few more steps to becoming the type of player that successive managers have always said he could.
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