Article by Thedamnedunited
Growing up in Manchester, supporting City, and starting out as an academy graduate with them, he showed all the signs of someone who would go on the achieve big things, maybe not in the Premier League, or even straight away in any division for that matter. But unfortunately for him, something was taking place behind the scenes at City, something that would change their whole philosophy on football, which probably didn’t go down too well with Clayton. We all know what happened next, Man City had the funds to bring in players such as Brazilian giants Robinho and Elano, making their youth system at the time largely obsolete. And without making any first team appearances in a City shirt, he was sent out on loan, initially to Carlisle United, where, surprisingly for Carlisle, he found degree of success pretty quickly.
It looked by no stretch of the imagination like Carlisle were going to win the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy in the 2009/10 season, and when they faced Leeds in the Northern Section Final, their chances looked even more slim. The first leg was tight, but Carlisle edged it, and in the second it was a similar affair. Clayton scored his first goal for the Cumbrians, ironically against the side he would be playing for the season after, putting them further ahead in the tie. Despite succumbing to Southampton in the final, Carlisle, and more so Clayton were becoming known for quick paced neat passing and showing bravery on the ball, which inevitably attracted the attention of Championship clubs.
He joined Leeds on another loan deal, this time with the intention of climbing the Football League ladder and making it in the Championship, and by the end of the same month, signed for Leeds on a permanent deal. This probably outlined his potential even more, as with Leeds’ renowned transfer policy if they were paying money for someone, they had to be sure to get their money’s worth. Leeds were probably looking to the future when they signed him, he wasn’t seeing first team football that often, and was sent out on loan back into League One, again developing his midfield play, and coming back to Leeds with a new-found ability to “see passes that others won’t and take control of the ball and think”. Under then Leeds manager Simon Grayson Clayton was starting to get runs in the team and assert himself as one of the first names on the team sheet, especially Bradley Johnson and Neil Kilkenny had left to join Norwich and Bristol City respectively.
But then something all too familiar to Leeds fans happened, one of their start players was nearing the end of his contract. And after Neil Warnock was appointed manager, replacing Grayson, yep, every Leeds fan in the country will be able to tell you what happened next. Clayton rejected Leeds’ offer of an improved contract and was placed on the transfer list, with Grayson’s new team, Huddersfield Town, offering him another shot at the Championship.
He was a fans’ favourite at Leeds. Not many wanted to see him go, and with Huddersfield, he can see the door to the promised land of the Premier League, along with Leeds. So far his side have reached the dizzy heights of the play-off spots but how long they will stay there for is another matter. Leeds probably threw him away, someone that went unnoticed at times but showed real potential and willingness on the pitch. He didn't always produce but when he did you knew about it, his passion was there for all to see and no matter which club he has been at he’s always shown it. Huddersfield snared a top Championship player in Clayton.