CLYDE WIJNHARD once hit a treble for Huddersfield Town in a memorable 7-1 Championship win over Crystal Palace.
Twelve years on, the striker from Suriname has a hat trick of interests after hanging up his boots back in 2006.
“Life is busy,” smiles the 38-year-old, who scored 18 goals in 73 appearances for Town between the summer of 1999, when he signed from Leeds for £750,000, and March 2002, when he left for Preston on a free transfer.
“I’m still involved in football through coaching juniors in Leeds, and I also work with agents both here and abroad to set up trials for promising young players.
“But I also wanted to pursue other avenues, and I have set up a business which supplies LED lighting and am also involves in an events and marketing company.
“It’s going well, especially with the lighting. It’s a green product, energy efficient, and in theory, there will always be a demand for it.
“I work closely with local councils, and the government are keen to push environmentally-friendly products like mine.
“Business is very different from football, but I have enjoyed learning the ropes and I am passionate about the product.”
While born in the South American republic of Suriname, Wijnhard’s footballing career began at the famed youth academy of Dutch giants Ajax.
He first caught the eye while on loan to Groningen and his subsequent scoring exploits at RKC Waalwijk and Willem II of Tilburg were enough to persuade then Leeds boss George Graham to shell out £1.5m to bring him to the Premier League ahead of the 1998-99 campaign.
Unfortunately for Wijnhard, Graham moved to Tottenham just two months into the season, with David O’Leary taking over at Elland Road.
“As with any job, if your manager leaves soon after you have signed and someone else comes in with a completely different philosophy, it can be extremely difficult,” explains Wijnhard.
“I was still young and a bit naive and had just moved to a new country. I had been sold the vision of the club through the eyes of George Graham, and while it is no slight on David O’Leary, what I was left with was not what I expected at all.
“Any manager wants to build a team in his own image and with his own players, and unfortunately for me I was still finding my feet in the Premier League and didn’t quite fit in.”
Wijnhard was made available for a transfer the following summer, and Steve Bruce, newly installed at Town, soon stepped in.
The frontman got off to a flyer in blue and white stripes, with that hat trick against Palace helping him to a final tally of 16 as Town gave Liverpool a stiff test in the third round of the FA Cup (they finally lost 2-0) and narrowly missed out on making the Championship play-offs.
“It was a great season,” he recalls. “I was top scorer and we had good players and a good manager and the club seemed to be going places.”
But the following campaign was grim for both Wijnhard and Town.
Just a month in, the player was involved in a horrific car accident on the A1 in which he suffered a career-threatening arm injury.
Not long after, Bruce was sacked as the team’s form dipped – and with Lou Macari at the helm, Town ended up suffering relegation.
Wijnhard’s recovery period was lengthy – he finally returned 16 months after the accident – and after scoring twice in 15 outings for Town, he was back in the Championship with Preston.
By the start of the following season, 2002-03, he was wearing the colours of Town’s League I rivals Oldham, and claimed a double in a 4-0 derby win over his former club at Boundary Park, shortly after netting four in a 6-1 home victory against Mansfield.
His final haul for that season was 13, but another move beckoned, this time to Portugal’s SC Beira Mar, before a return to England with Darlington, then of League II, in October 2004.
Wijnhard scored goals, 15 of them, in a struggling side, and there were another 12 in an eight-month stint at Macclesfield before a short spell at Brentford blew the final whistle on his professional career.
Having turned out for the Leeds Masters side and in charity matches in both Birmingham and Yorkshire, Wijnhard keeps close tabs on Town.
“I speak regularly to Andy Booth and still come to the occasional game,” he says.
“I still have a soft spot for the club and I would love to see them make it back to the Championship, because that’s the lowest level they should be playing at.”