Leroy Halirou Bohari Lita (born 28 December 1984) is a professional footballer who plays as a striker for Sisaket in the Thai Leagues T1. Lita was a product of the Chelsea youth system. He failed to play for Chelsea, and moved to Bristol City and Reading, where his form helped him earn a place with the England under-21 side, he has since played for Swansea City, Barnsley and in Greece for AO Chania. He has also played on loan with Charlton Athletic, Norwich City, Birmingham City, Sheffield Wednesday, Brighton & Hove Albion and Notts County.
Born in Kinshasa, Lita signed his first professional contract for Bristol City at the age of 18 at the start of the 2003–04 season, after being discovered by scout Roger Barton. It wasn’t until Brian Tinnion took over from Danny Wilson as manager at the start of the 2004–05 season that Lita really established himself in the first team. That year he scored 29 goals in all competitions for club and one U21 international goal taking his tally to 30 for the season.
Lita moved to Reading (then in the Championship) on 13 July 2005 for a then club record fee of £1 million.
Lita scored on his debut at home to Plymouth Argyle with a fine header to equalise, but Reading lost 2–1, however they only lost one more league game during the entire season. Lita made it three goals in his first three games as he scored two well taken goals in Reading’s 3–0 win away at Preston. He scored in home wins against Swansea City in the League Cup and Burnley in the league, before scoring an overhead kick in the 3–2 win at home to Crystal Palace. He then endured a barren spell in front of goal, but he ended it with a goal in a 3–0 win at Ipswich, a result which took Reading to the top of the Championship.
He then suffered an injury that kept him out for 6 weeks, but on his return against West Bromwich Albion in the third round of the FA Cup, he produced a high quality display, netting a superb hat trick that included a spectacular second goal with a dipping shot from 25 yards, after a series of one touch passes from the Royals. He found the net in a 4–0 win at home to Norwich City, and followed it up in the next game with two excellent finishes in a 4–3 away win at Crewe Alexandra. He scored for the third league game in a row with a tap in during a 2–0 victory at home to Southampton. He came on as a substitute to score the winner in a 2–1 win at home to Preston but his 2005–06 season ended early in the next game at Burnley when he sustained a broken ankle after landing awkwardly, but Reading still won the Championship title and promotion to the Premier League with a record total of 106 points.
Lita had a promising start to life in the Premiership, in which he netted the winner at home to Middlesbrough on the opening day, a game in which Reading came from 2–0 down to win, 3–2. He ended a goal drought by scoring in a 2–2 draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, the first of ten goals in twelve games, as he scored away at Manchester United in a 3–2 defeat, and scored again in the 6–0 home win over West Ham. He also scored three goals in two games in the FA Cup against Burnley and twice against Birmingham City. His next goal came at home to Wigan in a 3–2 win, and in the next game he scored two late goals in a 2–0 win away at Manchester City. Both goals came from through balls; for the first Lita hit a powerful first time shot from the edge of the box, across the keeper and into the top corner. The second was a finish when through one on one. He would have had a hat trick, but had a goal wrongly disallowed in the first half. Leroy scored again against Manchester United, as he pulled one back in a 3–2 home defeat in the FA Cup.
Lita had suffered some niggling injuries and found himself behind in form Kevin Doyle and Dave Kitson for parts of the season. On 13 April 2007, Lita was banned for three games for allegedly headbutting Talal El Karkouri of Charlton Athletic on 9 April, a charge disputed by both the player and Reading’s manager, Steve Coppell. However, Reading still managed to finish eighth in their first ever top division campaign, just missing out on a UEFA Cup place. Following the end of that season speculation surrounding the future of Lita increased as he continued to be linked with several premier league clubs. However the striker said in July that he wanted to stay at Reading “I’m happy here. This is an important year for me and the club and I just want to play and be successful.” In a freak occurrence just prior to the start of the 2007–08 season, Lita was faced with a month of downtime after damaging a leg muscle as he stretched in bed upon waking. Coppell told the BBC: “Leroy is in a great deal of pain. It’s a point of laughter but a serious business for him because he’s going to be out for three or four weeks.” Lita found himself largely our of favour in the 2007–08 season, and spent much of it either left out or injured, he also had a loan spell at Charlton Athletic. He only scored one goal in the Premier League that season, it came on the final day against already relegated Derby County with a diving header in a 4–0 away win. But Reading found themselves joining Derby, as they were relegated on goal difference.
On 5 March 2008, Lita joined Charlton Athletic on a one-month loan deal, after finding his first team opportunities limited at Reading during the 2007–08 season. The loan was later extended to the end of the season,but he was called back from the loan on 19 April for the last three games of the season.
Lita then went to Norwich City for a month-long loan on 1 October. He scored four goals in his initial six game spell including a hat-trick against Wolverhampton Wanderers in a 5–2 victory. Reading and Norwich agreed to extend the loan for another six games until 7 December. Following Norwich’s 2–0 win over local rivals Ipswich, it was announced on 8 December that Lita would sign a further third month on loan. Lita went on to score 7 goals for Norwich, and in a season which ultimately ended up with relegation, Lita was City’s second top scorer – behind own goals.
Lita returned to Reading and played in the third round FA Cup tie defeat at Cardiff City.
He then made his first league appearance since August, coming on as a sub, to score a goal against Watford at home on 9 January 2009, to make it 4–0. Later, in the same week Lita announced that he had changed for the better, and that he would stay with Reading for the promotion push.
Sheffield United had a seven figure sum accepted by Reading for Lita on 13 January 2009, but the club later withdrew from proceedings after they were not willing to pay the £1.2m signing-on fee being requested by Lita. On 15 May, Lita, Michael Duberry, Marcus Hahnemann and club captain Graeme Murty were told that their contracts would not be renewed.
On 3 August 2009, it was announced that he would join Middlesbrough on a free transfer. He made his debut for Middlesbrough on 7 August 2009 in a 0–0 draw with Sheffield United, but had limited opportunities to score.
Lita scored his first goal for Middlesbrough against Doncaster Rovers, in a 2–0 win for the Boro. He received a yellow card for removing his shirt in his subsequent celebration. He scored his second goal when returning to his old club Reading in Middlesbrough’s 2–0 win on 3 October 2009. His third goal for Middlesbrough came on 21 November 2009 against Nottingham Forest off a rebound off a Julio Arca shot. On 5 December 2009, Lita scored two goals in a 5–1 win against QPR, Middlesbrough’s first win under new manager Gordon Strachan. Lita again received a yellow card for his goal celebration. On 26 December 2009, Lita received a red card for an elbow during the win against Scunthorpe, which was the first of his career.
Lita’s first goal of the 2010–11 season came on 18 September 2010 against old club Reading and his second followed on 27 November with a headed goal in a 2–2 draw with Hull. On 28 December, Lita’s 26th birthday, he scored two goals against Preston in a 3–1 win for Middlesbrough – his first being an individual effort, scoring after a weaving run from the halfway line. Lita scored twice against the club where he began his career, Bristol City, in Middlesbrough’s 4–0 away victory on 15 January 2011. He was yellow-carded for his celebration following his first goal, after being subjected to abuse from the home fans. Lita later took the unusual step of using the Bristol City website to apologising to their fans for his actions.
On 27 July 2011, newly promoted Premier League side Swansea City had a fee of £1.75m accepted by Middlesbrough for Lita’s services. He completed his medical the following week and signed a 3-year contract. He made his Swansea debut against Manchester City as a substitute. Lita scored his first Swansea City goal on 17 September 2011 against West Bromwich Albion scoring a header in a 3–0 win.
On 6 September 2012, Lita agreed to join Birmingham City on a three-month emergency loan, the move to be completed when the loan transfer window opened two days later. He scored his first goal for the club on his second appearance, touching in a Paul Caddis cross to open the scoring at home to Bolton Wanderers. After ten league games in which he scored three goals, Lita’s loan was terminated on 12 November to allow him to return to his owning club to complete his recovery from a thigh injury.
Lita made his debut on 26 January 2013, scoring the winning goal against Charlton Athletic after coming on as a substitute for Kieran Lee in the 54th minute. He went on to score his second goal in as many games, through a first half volley in a 3–1 home victory against Brighton & Hove Albion. Leroy scored against Crystal Palace on 23 February to take his tally for Sheffield Wednesday to 3 goals. He uses a trademark celebration when he scores goals for Wednesday, using his fingers to make an “M” which stands for massive. Lita scored his fourth goal of the season for Sheffield Wednesday from a well placed penalty to add to the 3–2 victory against Blackburn Rovers on 6 April. He has also helped them stave off the relegation with a second goal in a 2–0 victory over Middlesbrough, Lita’s former club.
On 16 October 2013, Lita signed for Brighton on loan until 1 January 2014. Lita made his début as a substitute in the 0–0 draw against Yeovil on 19 October 2013. Lita scored his first goal for the club in a 3–1 away win at Doncaster Rovers. By the end of his loan spell with the Seagulls, Lita had made 5 appearances, scoring 1 goal.
After his departure from Swansea City, Lita signed a one-year deal at League One side Barnsley on 9 August 2014.
Lita joined Notts County on loan until the end of the 2014–15 season in March 2015.
In August 2015, Lita signed for Greek Football League side AO Chania.
On 5 March 2016, Lita joined League Two side Yeovil Town on a short-term deal until the end of the season.He was released at the end of the 2015–16 season.
On 7 January 2017, Lita joined Thai Leagues T1 side Sisaket. He will wear the number 11 shirt.