This was the season Fulham would become the ‘Manchester United of the South,’ according to Mo Fayed.

The Whites chairman was never far from a line as flamboyant as his shirts.

But in the end a Cottage glitterati, arguably as good as any Fulham side in its history, had to settle for 13th - 47 points behind champions Arsenal.

But for the first time, all three promoted clubs, Blackburn Rovers and Bolton, were the others - survived the Premier League drop.

Leeds were destined to finish fifth, and for its fans, 12 years ago must seem as ancient as laced footballs.

But anyone speculating to accrue and failing to meet targets will cost you - ask Tesco bosses this morning.

‘Doing a Leeds’ has become parlance for spending something like £119m on transfers and wages and missing out on the Champions League, which they did the following season. Things have never been the same.

As for Fulham, arguably the biggest signing in its history heralded the promise of great things.

Van the man: Nigel Martyn congratulates Edwin Van der Sar at the end

You can argue George Best, Rodney Marsh, and Bobby Moore all had impact, but for two of them they were in the twilight of their career when they fecthed up in SW6.

Not Edwin van der Sar.

He was one of Europe’s finest keepers when signed for £7.1m from Juventus. A Champions League winner with Ajax and Holland’s number one, I nearly fell of my seat when tapping CEO Mike Fiddy for a steer on Fulham’s new keeper and suggesting a possibility.

“Why would we go for him, when I’ve got Edwin van der Sar next to me in the car, Paul?” said he like the cat with the cream.

I thought I was being wound up, but he passed the phone to the Dutchman, and we had a chat, or rather he spoke while I pulled my senses together.

Contrast: Robbie Fowler thanks Leeds fans while Fulham players celebrate

Manager Jean Tigana had enticed the keeper, and the French tactical maestro then added another expensive forward Steve Marlet before the chairman pulled the plug on spending.

He suspected Tigana of dodgy dealing and took him to court two years later, but lost. It was a sad, tawdry way to end a relationship that had taken humble friendly Fulham from financial misery to Manchester United in just five years.

In this game, Steed Malbranque gave Fulham their first win at Elland Road since 1966 when he rifled home a low drive seven minutes into the second half as Leeds failed to clear their lines.

Challenge: Steve Finnan (L) about to tackle Robbie Keane

The home side had plenty of chances, but there was Van der Sar dealing with all to cement all six points that opening Premier League campaign after the Whites had trumped the big spenders at the Cottage 1-0 courtesy of Martin Djetou’s 10th minute strike 13 years ago this week.

Leeds: Martyn, Mills, Ferdinand, Matteo, Harte, Smith, Bakke, Batty, Bowyer, Fowler, Keane; subs not used: Robinson, Kelly, Wilcox, Johnson, Richardson; booked: Bowyer, Matteo

Fulham: Van der Sar, Finnan, Melville, Goma, Brevett, Davis (Ouaddou 87), Malbranque, Boa Morte (Goldbaek 9), Legwinski, Saha (Hayles 77), Marlet; subs not used: Taylor, Knight.

booked: Goma, Van der Sar, Legwinski.

Attendance: 39,111; Referee: R Styles (Waterlooville).