Norman Hunter (footballer)

Norman Hunter (footballer)
Norman Hunter
Personal information
Full name Norman Hunter
Date of birth 29 October 1943 (1943-10-29) (age 68)
Place of birth Gateshead, England
Playing position Central defender
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1962–1976 Leeds United 540 (18)
1976–1979 Bristol City 108 (4)
1979–1982 Barnsley 31 (0)
Total 679 (22 )
National team
1965–1974 England 28 (2)
Teams managed
1980–1984 Barnsley
1985–1987 Rotherham United
1988 Leeds United (caretaker)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Norman Hunter (born 29 October 1943 in Eighton Banks, Gateshead, England) is a former English footballer who was a member of the Leeds United team of the 1960s and 1970s. He was also part of the 1966 FIFA World Cup winning squad, receiving a medal in 2007.[1] He has since been included in the Football League 100 Legends. Known for his tackling, he was nicknamed "Bites Yer Legs" Hunter.


Career as a player

Initially an inside forward, Hunter was moulded by Leeds into a central defender who made the No. 6 shirt his own in 14 years with the club he joined at the age of 15, giving up a job as an electrical fitter in the process. He had been spotted playing for his local amateur side. He made his first-team debut in 1962, forming a partnership at the back with Jack Charlton which lasted for a decade. Leeds were promoted as Second Division champions in 1964 and a year later came very close to the "double" of League championship and FA Cup with Hunter to the fore. However, they lost the title to Manchester United on goal average and were beaten 2–1 by Liverpool in the FA Cup final, though Hunter's accurate long pass into the Liverpool area started the move which led to Billy Bremner's goal.

Hunter made his debut for the England team in 1965, but the partnership between Charlton and Bobby Moore meant that he spent much of his international career as an understudy, winning 28 caps in total. He was in the squad which won the 1966 World Cup but never kicked a ball. 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 winners’ squad members, Hunter was presented with his medal by Gordon Brown at a ceremony at 10 Downing Street on 10 June 2009. [2]

Hunter picked up a medal as Leeds won the League Cup and their first European honour with the Fairs Cup (later UEFA Cup) in 1968. A year later he won his first title medal and then in 1970 he was part of the team which sought a unique "treble", but won nothing. Hunter 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, coming on as a substitute in the 3–2 defeat by West Germany.

In the 1971 FA Cup, Leeds lost to Colchester United by 3–2 in the fifth round. They were 3–0 up and Hunter scored one of Leeds' goals as they attempted a comeback.

In May 1972, Hunter's joy as he fought the Leeds cause was captured in a photograph. His defensive position meant that he was at the opposite end of the pitch to Clarke when the Leeds striker launched his diving header – Hunter, like most central defenders, only went forward for set-pieces or when running with the ball at his feet. A photographer behind the Leeds goal, at the opposite end to Clarke, captured the moment as Hunter leapt high in the air in celebration with arms and legs spread, as if in the midst of a star-jump. Leeds won 1–0 and Hunter had his first FA Cup winners' medal. 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 the badly injured Jones negotiate his way up and down. Jones had been receiving treatment for a dislocated shoulder while his team-mates had been getting their prizes.

1973 saw further defeats in Finals, as Leeds lost in the F.A. Cup Final to Sunderland, and then a few days later to AC Milan in the now defunct European Cup Winners Cup. This match is one of a series of matches involving Italian Clubs that are regarded as being "fixed", by Dezso Solti. Hunter was sent-off in this match for retaliation.

Months earlier, 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 on 17 October 1973 who just needed a draw. It was 0–0 when Hunter raced across to the touchline to make a tackle but trod on the ball and lost it. Poland quickly made a counter attack and took the lead. Clarke equalised with a penalty but England could not get past Tomaszewski from open play and a 1–1 draw saw them miss out on a place at the World Cup. Another famous photograph from Hunter's career was one of him in an inconsolable state being led off the pitch by Bobby Moore, whose place in the side he had taken. Moore himself had made a similar mistake when England had lost 2–0 in Poland that May.

Hunter was the very first winner of the PFA Players' Player of the Year award, receiving it at the end of the 1973–74 season when he also picked up his second league title winner's medal.

Hunter had a new defensive partner for the next season with Leeds, with Gordon McQueen taking the No. 5 shirt made famous by Charlton. Leeds started the season with a 29-match unbeaten run, which led them to the title. Hunter was in the League for a fifth season and the departure of manager Revie to the England job meant that Hunter's own international career continued through to 1975, even though many expected him to be axed after his error against Poland.

His nickname "Bites yer legs" stemmed from his strength in the tackle. When Hunter himself suffered a broken leg, club trainer Les Cocker was informed that "Hunter had broken a leg" and responded with "whose is it?" .[2]

Life after football

Hunter turned to the after-dinner circuit recounting his anecdotes, and since 1993 has worked for local station BBC Radio Leeds and Yorkshire Radio as a summariser at Leeds games. In 1998, the Football League, as part of its centenary season celebrations, included Hunter on its list of 100 League Legends. Hunter released his autobiography, Biting Talk, in 2004.

He has been married to his wife Susan since 11 June 1968. They have a son and daughter and two grandchildren.

In 2009, he was portrayed by actor Mark Cameron in the film The Damned United which was centred on Brian Clough's ill fated 44-day spell as Leeds United manager in 1974.[3]

Career statistics


Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
1962–63 Leeds United Second Division 36 2
1963–64 42 2
1964–65 First Division 41 2
1965–66 41 5
1966–67 40 0
1967–68 40 2
1968–69 42 0
1969–70 35 1
1970–71 42 1
1971–72 42 0
1972–73 32 1
1973–74 42 0
1974–75 25 1
1975–76 31 1
1976–77 9 0
1976–77 Bristol City First Division 31 0
1977–78 38 3
1978–79 39 1
1979–80 Barnsley Third Division 24 0
1980–81 6 0
1981–82 Second Division 0 0
1982–83 1 0
Total England 679 22
Career total 679 22



Leeds United


External links

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