Norman Hunter (footballer)

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Norman Hunter
Hunter (centre) and Bobby Charlton (left), and Paul Reaney (right) in 1969
Personal information
Date of birth(1943-10-29)29 October 1943
Place of birth Eighton Banks, Gateshead, England, UK
Date of death 17 April 2020(2020-04-17) (aged 76)
Place of death Leeds, England, UK
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m) [1]
Position(s) Centre back
Youth career
1959–1962 Leeds United
Senior career*
1962–1976 Leeds United 540 (18)
1976–1979 Bristol City 108 (4)
1979–1982 Barnsley 31 (0)
National team
1964–1965 England U23 3 (0)
1965–1974 England 28 (2)
Teams managed
1980–1984 Barnsley
1985–1987 Rotherham United
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Norman Hunter (29 October 1943 – 17 April 2020) [2] [3] was an English footballer who played for Leeds United, Bristol City, Barnsley and England. He was part of the 1966 FIFA World Cup winning squad, receiving a winner's medal in 2007. [4] He was the first winner of the PFA Players' Player of the Year award in 1974, and was included in the Football League 100 Legends. A tough tackling centre-half and defensive midfielder, he was nicknamed "Bites Yer Legs" Hunter. The nickname originated from a banner held up by Leeds United fans at the 1972 FA Cup Final against Arsenal; the banner read "Norman bites yer legs". [5] He played 726 games in total for Leeds, scoring 21 goals. [6]


Playing career

Leeds United

Hunter was born in Eighton Banks, Gateshead, in 1943 and joined Leeds at the age of 15, [7] giving up a career as an electrical fitter to do so. [8] He made his first-team debut against Swansea Town in September 1962, [8] forming a partnership at the back with Jack Charlton which lasted for a decade. [9] Leeds were promoted to the First Division in 1964, [10] and Hunter picked up winner's medals as Leeds won the League Cup, the Fairs Cup in 1968 and 1971, and the League Championship in 1969. [11] [12] He was a consistent performer, playing 50 or more games for nine seasons in a row [9] and playing all 42 league games in five separate seasons. [13] [14]

In 1972, Leeds won the FA Cup via a goal from Allan Clarke. [15] A famous photograph of Hunter's celebration when the goal went in has been published many times. [13] [16] At the end of the game, Hunter climbed the steps to the Royal box twice; once to collect his own medal, and then again to help Mick Jones negotiate his way up and down, as Jones had been receiving treatment for a dislocated elbow while his teammates had been getting their prizes. [17]

1973 saw defeats in two finals, as Leeds lost in the FA Cup Final to Sunderland, and then a few days later, to A.C. Milan in the European Cup Winners' Cup, a game overshadowed by rumours of match-fixing. [15] [18] Hunter was sent off in the latter match for retaliation. [9]

In the 1973–74 season, Leeds started the season with a 29-match unbeaten run, which led them to the title, giving Hunter his second League winners medal. [11] [19] At the end of that season, Hunter was the first winner of the PFA Players' Player of the Year award. [12] [9] As title holders Leeds thus entered the European Cup the following season, and Hunter was a member of the team that reached the 1975 European Cup Final, only to lose 2–0 to Bayern Munich. [20] [21]

Bristol City

After 540 Football League appearances [22] and 726 in total for Leeds, Hunter signed for Bristol City on 28 October 1976 for £40,000, and remained there for three years, making 108 league appearances (122 in total) and scoring four goals. [23]


Hunter finished his playing career with three seasons from 1979 to 1982 at Barnsley, where he was also manager from 1980 to 1984. [24]

Managerial and coaching career

Hunter was appointed Barnsley manager on 16 September 1980 after ex-Leeds player Allan Clarke left to take over as manager at Leeds United. That season, Hunter took Barnsley to second place in the Third Division and won promotion to Division Two. [24] Hunter had two good seasons, 1980-81 and 1981-82, but then a mediocre one in 1982-83. After that Barnsley started to struggle and Hunter was sacked on 8 February 1984 after a 3-2 home defeat by Cardiff City. [24] He had a further managerial spell at Rotherham United (24 June 1985 to 9 December 1987) and was assistant manager to Terry Yorath at Bradford City, 1989 to February 1990. Hunter also worked as a coach for manager Johnny Giles at West Bromwich Albion [25] [22]

International career

Hunter played three games for England under-23 before given his debut for the England team in 1965 by manager Alf Ramsey. On 8 December 1965, England played Spain in Madrid. Hunter came on in his first game, as a 35th minute substitute for Joe Baker. The substitution of Hunter in a midfield position allowed Ramsey to deploy both Bobby Charlton and Alan Ball in more attacking roles as England won 2–0. [26] [27] The existing partnership between Jack Charlton and Bobby Moore meant that he spent much of his international career as an understudy, winning 28 caps in total. [28] [6] He was in the squad which won the 1966 World Cup but did not play any games. [22] [24]

Hunter scored the winning goal against Spain in England's quarter-final qualifying round for the 1968 European Championship, he then started in both the 1–0 semi final defeat to Yugoslavia and the 2–0 victory over the Soviet Union in the bronze medal match. [29] [30] He spent a short part of the 1970 season injured but he was in Alf Ramsey's squad for the summer's World Cup in Mexico, however his only appearance in the tournament was coming on as a late substitute in the 3–2 defeat by West Germany. [31]

In 1973, Hunter was in the England team which needed to win their last qualifying tie for the 1974 World Cup in West Germany. The opposition at Wembley were Poland, who just needed a draw to qualify at England's expense. It was 0–0 when Hunter went to make a tackle, but instead trod on the ball and lost it. Poland quickly made a counterattack allowing Grzegorz Lato to run clear and set up Jan Domarski to score. [32] [33] Allan Clarke equalised with a penalty but England could not score again, and the 1–1 draw saw them miss out on a place at the World Cup. [34]

Post-playing and managerial career

Hunter turned to the after-dinner circuit recounting his anecdotes, and from 1993 to 2020 he worked for local station BBC Radio Leeds and Yorkshire Radio as a summariser at Leeds games. [35]

In 1998, the Football League, as part of its centenary season celebrations, included Hunter on its list of 100 League Legends. [36]

Hunter released his autobiography, Biting Talk, in 2004. [37]

In the 1966 World Cup final only the 11 players on the pitch at the end of the 4–2 win over West Germany received medals. Following a Football Association-led campaign to persuade FIFA to award medals to all the squad members, Hunter was presented with his winner's medal by Gordon Brown at a ceremony at 10 Downing Street on 10 June 2009. [38]

Hunter retained close links with Leeds United and its fans, and regularly appeared at Leeds matches and figured at club-hosted conferences and events; the eponymous "Norman Hunter Suite" is located in the West Stand at Elland Road. [39] [8]

Following Hunter's death on 17 April 2020, Leeds United announced on 23 April that the South Stand at Elland Road would be renamed after Hunter. [40]

Personal life

In 1968 Hunter married Susan Harper, [32] and the couple had two children, Michael and Claire. [35] [41]

On 10 April 2020, it was reported that Hunter was being treated in hospital after testing positive for COVID-19. [6] [42] On 16 April he was described as being "severely unwell". [43] The following day, Leeds United announced that Hunter died from the virus, aged 76, stating that "[his death] leaves a huge hole in the Leeds United family [and] his legacy will never be forgotten". [44] [42] [8]

Career statistics

Source: [14] [13]
ClubSeasonLeague FA Cup League Cup Europe OtherTotal
Leeds United 1962–63 Second Division 3623020412
1963–64 4223020472
1964–65 First Division 4128021513
1965–66 4152010110555
1966–67 4007030100600
1967–68 4025070110632
1968–69 420202091551
1969–70 35170206010511
1970–71 4214110100572
1971–72 420704030560
1972–73 321705090531
1973–74 420501010490
1974–75 25150408010421
1975–76 3112020351
1976–77 9010100
Bristol City 1976–77 First Division3103010350
1977–78 3833020433
1978–79 3913020441
Barnsley 1979–80 Third Division 2402010270
1980–81 6060
1981–82 Second Division0000
1982–83 1010
Career total679227814517812088225



Leeds United




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