Leeds United great Norman Hunter has died in hospital aged 76 after contracting coronavirus.
The tough-tackling centre-back, nicknamed ‘Bites Yer Legs’, was a key player in Leeds’ most successful era. He won two league titles during a 14-year first-team career at Elland Road, and was a non-playing member of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning squad.
Hunter was admitted to hospital on 10 April after testing positive for coronavirus. Leeds said Hunter’s death leaves “a huge hole” in the family of the club.
Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Judith Blake said:
“I am absolutely heartbroken to hear the tragic news that Norman has passed away. He was a legend on the pitch and an absolute gentleman off it. It was a true honour to see him awarded the Freedom of the City with his teammates last December. Along with thousands of people in Leeds and beyond Norman Hunter was a hero of mine and I have treasured memories of watching him play as a child. Our thoughts and heartfelt condolences are with his family, friends, former teammates and everyone connected with Leeds United. This is a very sad day for the city of Leeds.”
Rest in peace Norman pic.twitter.com/Fq38EJK6Pn
— Leeds United (@LUFC) April 17, 2020
Norman was taken to hospital last week after being diagnosed with COVID-19 and despite continuing to battle and the best efforts of NHS staff, he sadly lost his fight earlier this morning.
Born on Friday 29th October 1943 in Eighton Banks, County Durham, Hunter left school at the age of 15 to become an electrical fitter. Playing for Birtley Juniors, he was scouted by Leeds and following a trial game was offered a place on the club’s ground staff.
Making his Leeds debut against Swansea Town at the age of 18 on Saturday 8th September 1962, he helped Don Revie’s side to a 2-0 victory and would go on to become one of the greatest centre-backs the game has ever seen.
Hunter amassed a huge 726 appearances for Leeds United over a 14 year period, the club’s most successful to date, earning the infamous nickname “Bites Yer Legs”.
Helping Leeds rise from the Second Division, Hunter was at the heart of the defence as the club became champions of England twice and Inter-Cities Fairs Cup winners twice, along with successes in the 1968 League Cup, 1969 Charity Shield and 1972 FA Cup. He won a total of 28 caps for England and was in the 1966 World Cup winning squad, whilst was also the first winner of the PFA Players’ Player of the Year in 1974.
Hunter left Leeds to join Bristol City in 1976, prior to a spell at Barnsley, who he later went on to manage along with Rotherham United. Norman remained part of the furniture at Elland Road throughout the years, being a regular speaker in the suite named in his honour, and was in attendance as recently as last month’s victory over Huddersfield Town.
He leaves a huge hole in the Leeds United family, his legacy will never be forgotten and our thoughts are with Norman’s family and friends at this very difficult time.