Never before have Jay-Z and Leeds United been mentioned in the same breath but then along came 2020.
The Premier League newcomers have marked their long-awaited return to the top flight by signing a new partnership with the rapper’s entertainment agency.
In doing so, they join the likes of global music superstars Rihanna, Alicia Keys and DJ Khaled on its roster, as well as footballers Kevin de Bruyne and Marcus Rashford.
Esteemed company indeed.
The partnership was unveiled on Saturday in the form of a mural depicting homegrown Leeds and England midfielder Kalvin Phillips, alongside club legends Lucas Radebe and Albert Johanneson, in Leeds city centre.
𝑷𝒂𝒗𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑾𝒂𝒚 🎨 This mural by @akse_p19 features club legends Albert Johanneson & Lucas Radebe, with current homegrown player @kalvinphillips at the heart of the wall. @RocNation #LUFCxROC pic.twitter.com/QaxdapqGHW
— Leeds United (@LUFC) November 21, 2020
Painted by street artist Akse P19 – who recently completed a mural of Rashford in Manchester – the design “proudly honours the diverse heritage of the club” as well as that of minority-owned Roc Nation, whose New York home also features.
“It’s really impressive – it’s a symbol of our club in this moment with Kalvin,” Victor Orta, Leeds’ sporting director, told BBC West Yorkshire Sport.
“It’s a real pleasure for me and the club because it is a symbol of our team and now it is eternal in a wall.”
He added: “It’s a big international brand worldwide. We want to grow in the States, we want to grow in Asia.
“It’s a partnership that shows where Leeds United are now.
“It shows the ambition of the club to continue growing.”
Roc Nation, a leading music and sports agency, aims to “support the growth of the Leeds United brand in key markets of the USA and Asia”.
In commissioning the mural, Roc Nation’s Kelly Hogarth said it was intended to “do something special for the fans”.
“It’s such a lovely time with Kalvin getting his England national team call-up, just really championing and celebrating figures who have really paved the way for our modern-day footballers,” she said.
“This is our first consultancy partnership in the Premier League. We’d had a lot of different discussions with a lot of different clubs, and it took just an hour with Andrea [Radrizzani – Leeds’ owner] and Angus [Kinnear – Leeds’ chief executive] for us to really buy into their strategic vision for the club.
“There’s a great blueprint for success and you really need a partner who is willing to collaborate and wants to try new things.”
Jay-Z gig at Elland Road, anyone?
— Roc Nation (@RocNation) November 21, 2020