Leeds United nostalgia: Class act is one of Whites true greats

Paul Madeley.

Paul Madeley.

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A classy operator who went about his on-pitch business in effortless fashion, if ever a moniker sat well with Paul Madeley, it was that of Rolls Royce.

Eighteen years of unstinting service with his home city club, Beeston lad Madeley, who made 712 starts for Leeds United, was a player who during his heyday in the sixties and seventies who have commandeered a place in every other of the Whites’ rivals – a player others coveted and would have plainly loved to have.

Madeley’s unflappable style and reliability in positions all across the park made him the proverbial managers’ dream, with his positional sense, calmness and immaculate reading of the game such that he would have easily made the transition between the modern-day game and his own era.

Loyal to the core with Leeds, you sense Madeley, if he was so inclined, could have easily graced any of the leading continental sides of his day, such was his class.

As a boy, Madeley, who turned 69 on Friday, played for Middleton Parkside Youth team along with the likes of future team-mate Paul Reaney and Derby County and Bradford Park Avenue goal machine Kevin Hector. After beginning work in an insurance broker’s office and playing in the old Yorkshire League with Farsley Celtic, Madeley signed for United in May 1962 and in his epic career at Elland Road, he played in every position except goalkeeper, incredibly playing in nine different positions during one season.

His versatility was shown in 1968, when he scored the crucial away goal against Juventus which helped United win the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, when he wore the number eight and ten shirts in both legs, while in the same year, he played as a striker in the League Cup final victory over Arsenal at Wembley.

Madeley played 31 league games in various positions in 1968-69 as Leeds won the Championship and in 1971, played in the number 11 position when Leeds won the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup once more – in nine matches in eight finals he played in, he wore seven different numbered shirts.

Madeley, capped 24 times by England in his career, was a mainstay of the side who sauntered to the title in 1973-74, when he was elected to the PFA Team of the Year in the season of its inception and also in 1974-75 and 1975-76.

During the second half of the seventies, when Leeds’ ageing side broke up, Madeley stayed with the club until 1980 – later going on to open a sports shop and keeping an interest in a successful family home decor business, which was subsequently sold.

Unfortunately, Madeley has suffered from his fair share of health problems in recent years and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease a decade ago.

But his place in the pantheon of club legends is firmly established.

Paul Madeley can justifiably lay claim to being one of the true Leeds United greats.

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