Tributes to flow in for Bremner the lionheart

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Tomorrow, 10 years have gone by since Billy Bremner died, two days short of his 55th birthday.

Bremner represented Scotland 54 times and played 771 games for Leeds in a 17-year career that began in 1959. And he was the driving force behind Don Revie's side who collected six major trophies at home and abroad, and were runners-up 12 times, between 1965 and 1975.

Tributes to the man who passed away on 7 December, 1997, will pour in from Bremner's former team-mates and thousands of fans will pay their respects at Saturday's Yorkshire derby against Huddersfield. Yet it is not only Bremner's Elland Road contemporaries who will be recounting memories of the man who also played 61 games for Hull and was the Leeds manager from 1985 to 1989.

Ron Yeats led Liverpool to two Championships and an FA Cup victory over Leeds in the 1960s and he recalled: "I'll never forget a picture of the two of us tossing up before a big game at Anfield. I was 6ft 3in and Billy was about 5ft 3in. We looked like Little and Large. But although he was only a wee man, he was a heavyweight player. He had the heart of a lion and he was a tremendous leader. He never gave up. He was an inspiration and he led by example. He expected the whole team to follow and they did.

"We only played together once for Scotland, against Italy in Naples in December 1965. On the morning of the match, we were sitting together at the team talk. Jock Stein, who had taken over from Ian McColl as manager on a part-time basis, turned to us and said: 'Right, I'm expecting miracles from you two today'. And Billy looked at me and whispered: 'So he's not asking a lot then'. We lost 3-0!"

Jimmy Armfield took over as Bremner's manager at Leeds in October 1974. "The team were struggling," remembered Armfield, the former England captain who is now a member of the Radio Five Live commentary team. "They had lost Don Revie in the summer and had gone through a traumatic 44 days with his successor, Brian Clough. When I arrived, Billy was injured and the team was near the bottom with six points from nine matches.

"One day I was chatting to Bob English, our kit man, and he said: 'Don't worry, you'll see a difference when Billy's back. When Billy plays, they all play'. And he was right. We never looked back when once Billy was fit again. He was a real firebrand but people forget what a gifted player he was. Good touch on the ball, very clever, with just about the best reverse pass I ever saw. He was a great competitor, too, with a tremendous amount of pride.

"He wanted the job after Clough left and I suspect there was a bit of resentment when I arrived. I didn't go out of my way to win him over. I just treated him with the respect he deserved and we became close."

Peter Swan, who made more than 500 appearances for Leeds, Hull, Port Vale, Plymouth, Burnley, Bury and York, was given his league debut by Bremner in 1986.

Swan, a match summariser for BBC Radio Humberside, will always remember the influence of Bremner.

"Billy was never the kind of manager who locked himself away in his office. He loved being around his players. I can still see him now, sitting in the dressing-room with one elbow on his knee, listening to all the banter.

"He was absolutely passionate about Leeds United. He lived for the club and was always destined to go back as manager.

"And he transmitted that passion to his players. We all went out wanting to win, for Leeds and for Billy Bremner."

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