Former Leeds and England defender Norman Hunter dies aged 76 from coronavirus

17 April 2020, 10:57

Norman Hunter has died aged 76
Norman Hunter has died aged 76. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Former Leeds and England defender Norman Hunter has died from coronavirus aged 76.

The football player was in the squad for England's 1966 World Cup team which went on to clinch victory that year.

Hunter was taken to hospital and diagnosed with Covid-19 last week, and died in the early hours of Friday morning.

Leeds United confirmed the sad news in a statement. A spokesperson said: "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."

Over the course of his career, Hunter won a total of 28 caps for England.

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He did not play in England's triumphant World Cup campaign as he could not break the partnership of Jack Charlton and Bobby Moore.

Born on 29th October 1943 in Eighton Banks, County Durham, Hunter left school at the age of 15 to become an electrical fitter.

He was soon scouted by Leeds, and eventually went on to play his first match for the team aged 18 against Swansea.

He made 540 appearances for Leeds and won two First Division titles, the FA Cup, League Cup and two Inter-Cities Fairs Cups.

He also played for Bristol City and Barnsley, managing the Tykes after he retired as well as Rotherham.

Leeds United first team squad in 1967
Leeds United first team squad in 1967. Picture: PA

The EFL tweeted: "We are saddened to learn of the passing of former @LUFC, @BristolCity and @BarnsleyFC defender Norman Hunter at the age of 76. Our thoughts are with his loved ones at this very difficult time."

Ex-England midfielder Peter Reid, a former Leeds manager, wrote: "RIP Norman Hunter, a giant of a man."

A tweet on the England 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 @FIFAWorldCup-winning squad and won 28 caps for the #ThreeLions. All of our thoughts are with his family, friends and supporters at this time."

Former England striker Gary Lineker 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."

Norman Hunter pictured in 1967
Norman Hunter pictured in 1967. Picture: PA

Hunter was the winner of the Professional Footballers' Association's inaugural player of the year award in 1974, and the players' union said: "All at the PFA are deeply saddened to hear of Norman Hunter's passing.

"Football has lost a legend and we join the entire football community in mourning this loss."

Former Leeds team-mate Gordon McQueen paid 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."