Leitch began his playing career in 1989 at Shettleston Juniors FC before turning professional with Dunfermline Athletic in April 1990. After three years at East End Park, he joined Hearts where he remained for another three years before moving to England with Swindon Town in a £15,000 transfer. Leitch returned to Scotland in 2000 with home-town team Motherwell where he became an integral part of their midfield playing 128 league games.
A succession of injury problems prompted Leitch to quit football in 2006 and turn to management with Ross County, where he was officially appointed on 18 th April 2006. He guided the Staggies to their first national trophy in November 2006, when they won the Scottish Challenge Cup against Clyde in Perth.