Norman Hunter death: Leeds United legend dies aged 76 after contracting coronavirus, club confirms

Hunter was part of the Leeds squad that won two First Division titles, an FA Cup, League Cup and two Fairs Cups

Luke Brown
Friday 17 April 2020 13:00
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Leeds United have announced the death of club legend Norman Hunter at the age of 76.

Hunter, who made 28 appearances for England and was part of the 1966 World Cup-winning squad, was admitted to hospital last Friday with the coronavirus.

“Leeds United are devastated to learn of the passing of club icon Norman Hunter at the age of 76,” the club said in a statement published this morning.

“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.

“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.”

Hunter, who earned the nickname “Bites Yer Legs” because of his notoriously tough tackling, was part of the famed Leeds United squad that won two First Division titles, an FA Cup, League Cup and two Fairs Cups.

He made 540 appearances for Leeds during an illustrious career and also played for Bristol City and Barnsley, managing the Tykes after he retired as well as Rotherham.

Hunter’s former Leeds team-mate, Gordon McQueen, was among the first to pay tribute to “a great man and a great player”.

The Scot, who played alongside Hunter in Leeds’ backline from 1972 until 1976, told talkSPORT: “He was a great player to play alongside. I remember my first game, the team was: four (Billy) Bremner, five McQueen, six Hunter.

“He was a very, very skilful player. He wasn’t just tough-tackling Norman, he was a great player as well, great skill, great ability.

“He was a great man and a great player. He was a great man, he was very, very modest and a great player as well, never went on about his playing ability, never went on himself as a human being.

“He was a great human being and a great player.”

Hunter was also the winner of the inaugural PFA player of the year award in 1974.

Norman Hunter receives a gold medal from Prime Minister Gordon Brown for being part of England's 1966 World Cup-winning squad, 2009

“All at the PFA are deeply saddened to hear of passing. Football has lost a legend and we join the entire football community in mourning this loss,” the players’ union wrote on Twitter.

Hunter, who was first called up to play for England by Sir Alf Ramsey, was a part of the victorious 1966 World Cup squad, although he did not play in the campaign as he could not break the partnership of Jack Charlton and Bobby Moore.

A tweet on the England national team’s profile said: “We’re extremely saddened to learn of the passing of Norman Hunter at the age of 76.

“Norman was part of our FIFA World Cup-winning squad and won 28 caps for the Three Lions. All of our thoughts are with his family, friends and supporters at this time.”

Norman Hunter was part of England's 1966 World Cup-winning squad

Former England striker Gary Lineker meanwhile said: “Sad news: Norman Hunter has passed away. Grew up watching that great LUFC side of which he was a huge part. This awful virus was one crunching tackle too far but he’ll be biting yer legs somewhere. RIP Norman.”

And FA chairman Greg Clarke added: “This is very sad news and my thoughts are with Norman’s wife Sue and his family. I had been privileged to get to know him in recent years with his regular visits to Wembley to support the England team, and was always struck by his passion and knowledge.

“I have a particularly fond memory of being able to see at first hand just how much Norman was revered at Leeds United. When Gareth and the team played at Elland Road just before the last World Cup, it was more than fitting that he was part of our delegation in the suite that bears his name.

“While he will be especially missed at Leeds, the whole of English football will mourn his passing today.”

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