Norman Hunter tributes

Tributes to a legend.

Norman Hunter Web 8.jpg

“Like everybody who loves football and especially everyone who supports Leeds United, I am truly saddened to hear of the death of Norman Hunter. He was one of the greats, with a glib press reputation as a hard man - “Bites Yer Legs” – but actually a player who epitomised the combination of silk and steel that Don Revie’s great side had in abundance and which all the great defenders of every era have had too – and Norman was certainly one of those. I don’t think we’ll ever see his like again.” David Lascelles, Earl of Harewood, Honorary President of Leeds United

“Norman Hunter was an iconic figure at the football club and my first thoughts are with Sue and his kids Michael and Claire.  He was loved by everybody, he was a great guy and a truly great player and a great mate.    He used to kick you in training at times, but the thing about Norman when he kicked you in training is that he would pick you up and pat you on the head, but then he’d probably kick you again.  He had a reputation as everybody knows “Bites Yer Legs”, but Norman was a truly great football player.  He was such an important figure in Don Revie’s days and for the team that he played for.  He realised how lucky he was to play football and make a living out of the game.  That was his outlook, he felt so fortunate to play for such a great club and great players and he appreciated every minute of it.  Norman set the example, he was a terrific footballer, a terrific reader of the game, he had a great left foot and was so influential on our team.  He was a great lad, great around the dressing room and nobody had a bad word to say about Norman.  A lot of great players have walked through the gates at Elland Road, but Norman was right up there with the best of them.  He loved the football club, even a couple of months ago when football was still being played, he would be up in the West Stand kicking seats, banging the desk in front of him, just watching the games.  It was a great wish of his to see Leeds United playing back in the Premier League.  Hopefully when football gets back, Leeds United can retain their place in the Premier League, it would be a fitting tribute.” – Eddie Gray, Leeds United legend

“It’s been a tough few months, I lost my Dad in December and today I feel like I lost someone who, for a time in my life, almost fulfilled that role.  I’d moved to Leeds as a young man, to take up a role with the BBC and one of my very first jobs was a trip to Wembley to work as a reporter on the Charity Shield, Leeds v Liverpool. That’s the first time I met Norman, on, my first ever visit to the famous stadium. He was really nice to me. That set the tone.  A little while later, it was me in the commentary seat next to Norman and what a time that was! We travelled up and down the country together, we went abroad as Leeds got back into Europe, we socialised together, we laughed, we laughed a lot and we became friends.  Think about that, I was in my early 20’s, in my first proper job, and Norman was a footballing legend. He’d achieved pretty much everything, I’d done nothing and yet he treated me like a son. He gave me advice, he invited me into his home, to meet his lovely family and he helped me so, so much.  Watching football with Norman was the most brilliant education. He lived the game, loved the game and yet he could describe it in such straightforward terms. ‘See that round white thing, you’ve got to get it in that big netty thing..’, he’d suggest, convinced of the inherent simplicity of a game he’d make look easy.  He was very serious about football but he knew it was just a bit of fun. I have many ‘Normanisms’ I use to this day but my favourite, after watching a particularly bad 45 minutes, was to say, just after we’d taken our headphones off and looked in exasperation at each other, ‘I tell you one thing pal, it’ll never replace football...’.  He was a giant of the game but he never, ever acted like it. He was incredibly humble. Anyone who wanted a chat, got a chat. Anyone who wanted an autograph, got an autograph. That was a valuable lesson to me as well. Remember where you’re from. He never forgot his roots in the North-East, but Leeds was his home. He loved the city, he loved the club. He loved his brothers from those Revie years. He loved his family. He loved football.  And Leeds loved Norman. Even people who’d never seen him play, they knew. They knew this man was the real deal, one of the greats, one of their own.  I’ve enjoyed many great experiences in the course of my privileged career but right up there, right, right up there is the privilege it’s been to get to know Norman Hunter. I will miss this man so much. I can only begin to imagine how Sue, Michael, Claire and the rest of the family are feeling now. We’ve lost a friend, they’ve lost a husband, dad, a granddad. My thoughts are with them.  RIP Norm, my pal. Thank you. – Bryn Law, LUTV

“Norman was a very, very good friend, we had 12 years together at Leeds United and he was a first class person.  He was a great player and a lovely individual person.  He was very genuine, very modest and never talked about himself. He felt very privileged to play football at the level he did and he never took it for granted.  Norman was a great player and the best defender I ever played with.  He never lost his hunger and he really appreciated being a professional footballer.  He really had to work hard to get to where he did, but he always enjoyed it.  He pushed himself all of the time.  He had a great knowledge of where to be as a defender and he was a great tackler.  He read the game so well, he could see danger before it ever came near him and he would get stuck in.  Everything he gave, he gave for the team and you could depend on him with your life.    He was a hero with the Leeds crowd and we all loved him.” – Johnny Giles, Leeds United legend

“He was an absolute legend at the club.  I don’t like to throw that word around much, but he epitomises that.  He really was.  Past all of that, he was an unbelievable man, he has a beautiful family and our heartfelt condolences go to all of them.  It is a tragic day for the club, but hopefully we can do him proud and the job he dreamed of.  He wanted to see Leeds United back in the Premier League and we have that in the back of our minds as well now and hopefully we can do that for him. - Liam Cooper, Leeds United captain

“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.” – Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council

“It was a real honour to spend time with Norman during our centenary celebrations.  I will take with me forever his good memories and especially what he said to me: ‘I knew that the first tackle would be a free bonus from the referee, so I could go and show how the game would be to an opposing player’.  I will remember you fighting for our colours and will work hard to continue the culture in our club, with fighters on the pitch and gentleman outside.” – Andrea Radrizzani, Leeds United Chairman

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