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Leon Johnson: The end of an era

14 May 2014

Leon Johnson, the second longest-serving Blues player (after Matt Bloomfield), is leaving Adams Park after seven years at the club, writes Dale Hurman.

Leon’s departure follows the news that Wanderers manager Gareth Ainsworth has opted not to offer the defender a new deal for next season.

'Johnno' was snapped up by former Blues boss Paul Lambert in June 2007 following his release by Gillingham and was thrown straight into the side, making his debut on the opening day of the new season, in a 1-0 home defeat to Accrington Stanley.

Leon was soon to cement his place in the centre of defence, forming an impressive partnership alongside Mike Williamson as the side reached the League Two play-off semi-finals, losing over two legs to Stockport County.

He was a regular under new boss Peter Taylor in his second season at Adams Park, and marked it with a medal as the Chairboys won promotion to League One. Leon notched his first goal for the club with a priceless equaliser in injury-time to snatch a 1-1 draw away at Grimsby Town, and it proved crucial with the Blues only finishing above Bury on goal difference.

The 2009/10 season saw Leon start just eight games due to a knee problem and it wasn’t until the start of the following campaign that he returned to full fitness. Gary Waddock was now in charge and he soon restored the big defender alongside Dave Winfield in the heart of defence as they searched for an immediate return to League One.

Leon came up with another crucial goal, this time a towering header to snatch a point as the Blues fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Northampton Town at Adams Park in April 2011. The team finished the season with a ten-match unbeaten run to seal automatic promotion, a point ahead of Shrewsbury Town.

He signed a two-year contract extension that summer and formed central defensive partnerships with James Tunnicliffe and Dave Winfield whilst also showing his versatility as he filled in at left-back. He was shown his first red card in a 3-1 defeat at Chesterfield in September 2012 shortly before Gareth Ainsworth took over from Gary Waddock. He was sidelined for almost three months with a knee problem at the start of 2013 but recovered to sign a new one-year deal last summer.

Leon was reliable as ever in what was to be his last campaign with the Chairboys. Yet again he produced a vital goal, equalising in the seventh minute of injury-time to snatch a 1-1 draw with Scunthorpe United in December 2013. The team were to go on and pull off the greatest escape earlier this month with a 3-0 win at Torquay United on the final day of the season.

Leon made a total of 204 appearances for Wycombe Wanderers, scoring four goals.

He has been an immensely popular figure with everyone at the club during his seven years in the Chair Metropolis and will be fondly remembered by those who watched him in the quarters. He leaves with our very best wishes.

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