RIP Willie Bell (1937-2023)

RIP Willie Bell (1937-2023)

Rest in peace.

Leeds United are saddened to learn of the passing of former defender Willie Bell at the age of 85.

Bell passed away at his home yesterday, surrounded by his family, following a brief illness.

Born in Johnstone, Scotland, in 1937, Willie played for hometown side Johnstone Boys, before being signed by Queen’s Park in 1958.

Following a successful trial at Leeds United, he joined the club on a permanent basis and went onto make 260 appearances for the club, scoring 18 goals, in all competitions, over a seven-year spell.

He made his debut for Leeds against Leyton Orient on 7th September 1960 in the Second Division, at Elland Road and scored his first goal in a 7-0 victory over Lincoln City in April 1961.

By the 1963/64 season, Bell had firmly established himself in the side at left-back, following a conversion from a half-back and played 35 league games for Leeds, as the Whites were crowned Second Division champions.

The following season, he scored his first top-flight goal in a 3-3 away draw at Sunderland and helped Don Revie’s side finish as runners-up in the First Division, before lining up at Wembley for the Whites, after helping the club reach the FA Cup final for the first time.

Bell remained a key part of the side which again finished as First Division runners-up in 1965/66 and in his final full season, he played in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup Final against Dinamo Zagreb.

The full-back also earned his two international caps for Scotland in 1966, coming up against Portugal and Brazil.

Bell’s final match for Leeds came against Everton on 16th September 1967, as the Whites ran out one-nil winners at Goodison Park in the top-flight.

He went on to have spells at Leicester City and Brighton & Hove Albion after his time at Elland Road, before going on to manage Birmingham City and Lincoln City, after his playing career.

In 1979, Bell emigrated to the United States where he continued coaching at Liberty University, until retirement, and afterwards voluntarily at a local school until his final illness.

Our thoughts are with Willie’s widow Pat, his three children, Bill, Andrew and Caroline, and his seven grandchildren, along with his friends at this difficult time.