Leeds United fans called on to pay tribute to expat supporter

Jessie and Peter Lagares.
Jessie and Peter Lagares.

The son of a Leeds United fan from Gibraltar is calling on the club’s fans to honour his late father.

Peter Lagares was never able to afford flights from the British colony in the Mediterranean to watch his beloved Whites play until son Jesse bought tickets to a match at Elland Road for his 50th birthday back in 2011.

But just two months after the native Gibraltarians watched Leeds beat Nottingham Forest 4-1, Peter passed away suddenly after suffering a brain haemorrhage.

Jesse was just 18 at the time and worked extra shifts at his part-time job to afford the trip to England.

Now 24, he is living and working as a music producer and DJ in Leeds and has asked fellow supporters to pay tribute to Peter by applauding on the 56th minute of the upcoming home fixture against Brighton and Hove Albion on March 18 - what would have been his 56th birthday.

“It would be the biggest gesture if we could all clap on the 56th minute in his memory. I don’t know what better present to get him now that he is no longer with us - it would mean the world to me if it could be possible as I know he will be with us in spirit,” said Jesse.

With many Gibraltar residents choosing large English and Spanish football clubs to follow, Peter and Jesse settled on Leeds United because Peter’s brother has once worked at the Queens Hotel in the city, and they became lifelong fans.

The chance to watch the club regularly was even behind Jesse’s decision to move to the UK in 2011 to study at Leeds Beckett University.

“Dad had been a Leeds fan for as long as I can remember, always saying he’d die a happy man if he’d be able to go watch a match. You could say it’s quite odd we supported Leeds since most football fans in Gibraltar seem to support the ‘big clubs’, but me and my dad have stuck with Leeds through their ups and downs. This was the main thing we bonded over - sitting on the sofa on a Saturday afternoon screaming at the television.

“My father never had the luxury to fly over for a game, but on his 50th birthday, March 18, 2011, I worked extra shifts and spent all the money I’d earned to buy us two tickets and flights to see Leeds United vs Nottingham Forest at Elland Road.. Sadly, he passed away two months after this. That night in the hospital saying our last goodbyes, my last words to him were ‘No matter what, we’ll be forever marching on together’. “

Jesse has posted a video of his father opening his match ticket envelope in 2011 on several Leeds United pages on social media and has received an overwhelming response.

“I’ve received so much support as Leeds United is not just a club - we’re a family.

“It would be so overwhelming for me, in the stadium, and for my family watching back home to see the entire stadium stand up and clap in his memory on the 56th minute - truly the greatest gift and tribute I could ever give to him on his birthday.”