Lee Sharpe, older brother of John who was with Exeter City in the mid-1990s, was a former England international who played a handful of games for the Grecians at the end of his career. Best-known for his time at Manchester United and Leeds United, Lee had been a youth trainee at Torquay United and had the unexpected distinction of starting and finishing his professional career in Devon.
After failing to find a traineeship with one of the big Midlands clubs Lee was taken on by Torquay United and, on 3 October 1987, made his debut as a sixteen-year-old against Exeter City at St James’ Park. Then, after just 14 league appearances and three goals, Lee transferred to Manchester United in June 1988 for a fee of £200,000. After quickly making his debut in September 1988 Lee became something of an overnight star and went on to make 193 league appearances for the Old Trafford club over the next eight years playing first for England under-21s in 1989 - at the age of seventeen - and winning the first of his eight full international caps in March 1991.
Lee left Manchester United to join Leeds United in a £4.5 million transfer in August 1996 and, arguably, things were already destined never to be the same again. Suffering knee injuries, Lee only played thirty league games and loan moves to Sampdoria and Bradford followed with a permanent move to the Valley Parade club, by now in the Premier League being cemented in June 1999. After a loan to Portsmouth, Lee appeared in twenty league and cup games for Bradford in 2001/02 before his eventual release.
Without a club in August 2002, and ahead of Exeter’s 2002/03 relegation season, Lee was back in Devon after fourteen eventful years signing a match-to-match deal with the Grecians. Widely-seen as a publicity stunt by the owners of the club, Lee made his City debut on 13 August 2002 against and, after scoring against Hull, his final game for City was against Torquay on 26 August 2002. Unknown to all at the time this proved to be Lee’s final appearance in English professional football in the very fixture his career started with in October 1988. Speaking a few days later Exeter manager John Cornforth said: "He hasn't got a club sorted out yet and I think he wants to concentrate more on his radio and television work. I want to thank Lee for everything he has done. It was just down to my decision as the manager."
Thereafter Lee made a small number of appearances for Icelandic club Grindavik followed by a short spell with Garforth Town. He then enjoyed a media and entertainment career appearing in various reality TV and celebrity programmes as well as working as pundit for a range of sports channels. Over the years he had penned an autobiography and ran a pub in Yorkshire. In October 2022 it was reported that Lee’s venture into opening a bar in Spain had not been a success.