Former Leeds United forward Mirco Antenucci has told the Italian media Massimo Cellino ordered him not to play because it meant he could get an automatic renewal.

Antenucci spent two seasons at Elland Road before returning to Italy in 2016.

When quizzed on his time at Leeds United, the striker told Gazzetta dello Sport: “If I had scored 12 goals in the second year, I would have had the automatic renewal. In December I was already at 8 and then Cellino, owner of the club, ordered me not to play anymore. However, I managed to get to ten before returning to Italy.”

Antenucci left Italian football to sign for Leeds United in 2014, despite his desire to play in Serie A. The striker had success in his first season at Leeds when he was the top scorer at the club, but he was in and out of the team in the next campaign.

Embed from Getty Images

Former Leeds United owner Cellino didn’t offer Antenucci a new deal, and he left Elland Road club before his contract expired. It seems this decision has backfired on Leeds United as the veteran has impressed this season with Serie A side SPAL.

The 33 year old is the Italian side’s top scorer this season, and this week was given a two year contract extension.

Despite what happened with Cellino, Antenucci has fond memories of Leeds United, telling Gazzetta: Very good. In Leeds they live football as in our cities of the south. The enthusiasm is always very high despite the team being in the second division for years.”