Former York City star Gordon Staniforth is facing up to life out of work after being sacked from his dream job with Premiership Leeds United.

The one-time record signing for the Minstermen admitted to being 'stunned and shocked' after he was dismissed after just seven months as youth team coach at Elland Road.

The remaining 26 months of his contract have been paid up after talks with Leeds' chairman Peter Ridsdale.

Staniforth, formerly City's Football In The Community liaison officer, was told of his sacking by Leeds boss George Graham.

"George Graham called me in and said things hadn't worked out," recalled Staniforth.

"He said he had not been happy with the youth development side of things and wanted to make changes. That was it.

"I said to him 'are you making me the fall guy?' to which he said 'no' and I said, 'well, it seems like it'. It's a mystery to me, but I will bounce back."

The 41-year-old Staniforth believed he had fallen victim of Graham's desire for instant success after attainment on the youth front eluded the Elland Road club at the end of the season.

"He is very much results-orientated. But as I explained youth teams are a development thing.

"The side I was involved with finished in mid-table of the Northern Intermediate League and we lost in the final of the NIL Cup to Bradford City," explained the man, who figured in 160 games in two separate spells at Bootham Crescent.

"Meanwhile, the premier youth team got to the semi-final of the FA Youth Cup.

"So I suppose at the end of the season it never went as well as planned for both teams. But I was looking forward to next season's new intake and the fact that we would be having two new teams at under-17 and under-19 level because we were withdrawing from the NIL."

The sacking came smack out of the blue, maintained the popular coach.

"There was nothing that could have pre-warned me about the decision. There was nothing to hint at me being sacked," he said.

"I had formulated some ideas for next season and was looking forward to implementing them.

"But big clubs, as Leeds are, don't mess about. I was the one to go and that's football, though it is the biggest disappointment I have ever had."

Staniforth's dismay was all the more acute because he had given up a prized coaching job with the Professional Footballers' Association to take up the post at Leeds, where he completed a four-strong youth team of John Bilton (head of youth development), John Dungworth, and Daryl Pugh (the centre of excellence director).

As to his future, Staniforth said he is now looking to a return to a combination of coaching and education as he had experienced with the PFA as their first north-east regional training director.

He said: "It's a challenging situation being unemployed. The Leeds job was the right thing to go for at that time, but may be it's now once bitten, twice shy with professional football.

"It's shocked me, but that's football. I will bounce back."

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