You might say it was a goal that changed Chris Wood's life.

It certainly changed his outlook on football, and propelled him towards the most important season of his career.

The 25-year-old has scored more than 100 senior goals in English football, as well as 24 for the All Whites, only behind Vaughan Coveny on the New Zealand all time list.

Wood has been in England for almost a decade, and is a proven goal scorer across a number of clubs. But as a striker you are only as good as your last performance, as Wood found out at the beginning of last season.


The All Whites striker had joined Leeds at the start of the 2015/2016 campaign, transferring from Leicester for £3 million ($5.68 million). That price tag created some pressure, and the New Zealander struggled to win over the fans. He performed well - with a creditable 13 goals in 36 games - but those on the terraces tended to focus on the chances that he missed.

The next season started badly. Leeds lost 3-0 away to QPR, then endured a 2-1 defeat at home to Birmingham, with Wood substituted after the hour mark, to some noticeable booing from sections of the Elland Road crowd.

The pressure was on the team, none more so than their marquee striker, and was set to increase exponentially as Leeds were headed towards their third straight defeat the following week, trailing Fulham late at home.

Then Wood did something special, that continues to define his career. He popped up in the 94th minute with an overhead kick to equalise, setting his - and Leeds's season - on their way.

"This was possibly the most important goal I ever scored for Leeds," Wood told the Herald. "It was when I was getting booed week, in week out. Even though I was top goal scorer the year before, scoring more that year then any other Leeds player did in the past 3 seasons. I know it wasn't all the fans booing me but it was a good majority of them. I guess they just didn't take a liking to how I played."

Wood's celebration that day was pointed, cupping his ear to the Leeds fans on the terrace, as an instant reaction to the flak he had been copping. But there was also a longer term effect, as he took stock of the way he had perceived success.

"People looked back and said it was the turning point in my Leeds career," said Wood. "But for me it was the point I learnt that you need to stop caring about what other people think and just do it for you, your family, friends and team mates. They are the ones that always support you no matter what, through highs and lows, they are always behind you no matter what."

With a new focus, Wood had the season of his life, winning the Championship golden boot as he reached the magical 30 goal mark for The Whites, and subsequently secured a move to the English Premier League.

"It was a great lesson to learn and I'm happy I did," said Wood. "Since that goal I just go out there and do my job, work hard for the team and make those people that I said happy. And that's all that I can control. No point worrying about anything else cause it's all out of your control."

All Whites' teammate Rory Fallon has followed Wood's career closely since he burst onto the scene at the turn of the decade, and recognised his difficulties at Leeds.

"There are times when he has had sticky patches in his career - we all do," said Fallon. "When he first went to Leeds he was under fire from the fans. But he kept mentally strong and he got through. And that is what you have to do."

"If you are a top player you are going to get people coming at you from all angles, whether you are playing well or not. You are always in the spotlight but his spotlight is even bigger. Especially in England, as your own fans can be booing you off the pitch if you are not winning."