Sheffield United: Former Sheffield Wednesday striker Leon Clarke wants to bridge the footballing divide

Leon Clarke made his first appearance for Sheffield United on Wednesday night �2016 Sport Image all rights reserved

Leon Clarke made his first appearance for Sheffield United on Wednesday night �2016 Sport Image all rights reserved

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Having spent three years of his career across the city at Hillsborough, Leon Clarke accepts that not everyone in Sheffield will be happy to see him pitch up at Bramall Lane.

But the centre-forward, who became only the 29th player to represent both United and Wednesday when he joined Chris Wilder’s side earlier this week, is adamant he can cross one of English football’s greatest divides.

Chris Wilder is delighted to land Leon Clarke from Bury 
�2016 Sport Image all rights reserved

Chris Wilder is delighted to land Leon Clarke from Bury �2016 Sport Image all rights reserved

“Of course there are probably going to be people who aren’t that happy about me joining because I was at Sheffield Wednesday in the past,” Clarke said. “I’d say to them ‘just have a little bit of patience with me, encourage me and the goals will come.’ I’ve shown that in the past. I’ve scored goals with all of the teams I’ve been at and I’ll be giving everything to do the same here.

“It might offend a few people. People are passionate about their football and I understand that.”

Clarke’s arrival from Bury has been well-received by the overwhelming majority of United supporters. He received a warm reception from the home crowd during Wednesday friendly against Derby County and is expected to appear when Wilder’s squad visits Handsworth Parramore tonight.

Clarke scored 18 times in less than 40 appearances for Bury last season and believes he has improved as a professional since leaving Wednesday six years ago.

Leon Clarke says he is delighted to become a Sheffield United player �2016 Sport Image all rights reserved

Leon Clarke says he is delighted to become a Sheffield United player �2016 Sport Image all rights reserved

“I’m a very different player to when I was at Wednesday and I’m a very different person too,” he said. “Back then, I probably didn’t look after myself as well as I could have done. I’d put weight on, then the weight would come off again. But I’m more mature now. Things have happened to me at home, I’m a father now, and in my personal life that have given me a completely different outlook.”