From Revie to Mandela, five of Leeds’s favourite adopted Loiners

Don Revie.
Don Revie.
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There are few things the people of Leeds like more than a homegrown hero.

Just ask David Batty, Alan Bennett or Nicola Adams – all born in the city and feted by their fellow Loiners.

Denis Healey.

Denis Healey.

Don’t despair, however, if you have the misfortune to hail from outside Yorkshire’s unofficial capital.

For we are a welcoming bunch who – in exceptional circumstances – will take someone to our hearts like they’re one of our own.

And here are five adopted Loiners who prove that it’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re at.

* Don Revie may have been born in Middlesbrough but he achieved his greatest success in Leeds, a city where he remains a hero to this day.

Chris Chittell.

Chris Chittell.

Revie was appointed Leeds United manager in 1961 and went on to assemble a club side hailed by many as the finest in English football history.

They won two league titles, the FA Cup, the League Cup and two European Fairs Cups prior to Revie’s departure in 1974 for the England job.

The city’s enduring admiration for The Don was shown recently when a fundraising campaign got the money together for a Revie statue at United’s Elland Road ground.

* Denis Healey was born in Kent and raised in Keighley but he had a political love affair with the city of Leeds lasting 40 years.

Nelson Mandela with Lucas Radebe on his visit to Leeds.

Nelson Mandela with Lucas Radebe on his visit to Leeds.

Lord Healey was the MP for Leeds South East from 1952 until 1955 then represented Leeds East until 1992, when he was made a peer.

The special place he holds in the city’s affections was highlighted by the tributes that followed his death earlier this month at the age of 98.

Richard Burgon, the current Leeds East MP, said: “My family and tens of thousands of others here in east Leeds saw him as a fundamentally important part of the community in our area, voting him in decade after decade after decade as he represented our area in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

“He was a giant of the Labour movement, a fierce intellect and a fully-rounded human being with a plethora of interests inside and outside of politics.”

Kevin Sinfield.

Kevin Sinfield.

* Born in Aldershot, Chris Chittell is now part of the Leeds entertainment family thanks to his role on city-based TV soap Emmerdale.

He plays Eric Pollard and became the show’s longest-serving cast member following the death of Richard Thorp in 2013.

Chris is also renowned as a dedicated supporter of local good causes, including Jane Tomlinson’s Run For All.

His status as Mr Emmerdale was underlined when soldiers from The Yorkshire Regiment paid a special visit to the show’s Woolpack pub earlier this year.

They handed over their regimental emblem for display on the programme’s set at Kirkstall Road in Leeds.

And it was Chris who was given the honour of thanking the soldiers for their gift, saying: “Your plaque will take pride of place in The Woolpack to remind us of the mettle and commitment from such a regiment.”

*Global icon Nelson Mandela was confirmed as an adopted Loiner during remarkable scenes on April 30, 2001.

Thousands of well-wishers packed Leeds’s Millennium Square to greet Mr Mandela during his first official trip to the north of England.

Speaking as he was awarded the freedom of the city, he said: “Apartheid was seen to diminish the dignity of all humankind.

“The people of the city of Leeds were no exception. We remember them for their outstanding and unstinting support.”

Mandela’s bond with the city was strengthened by the local legend status afforded to Leeds United’s Lucas Radebe – the man the former South African leader described as his hero.

*Kevin Sinfield might hail from the wrong side of the Pennines but today he is a bona fide Leeds hero.

The man known as Sir Kev thanks to his remarkable exploits on the field at Leeds Rhinos in fact grew up in Oldham.

That accident of birth hasn’t stopped him being recognised as the greatest club captain in Leeds’s history.

Talking in April about his decision to switch codes and join Yorkshire Carnegie – who, like the Rhinos, play at Headingley – Sinfield said: “I love the place. People talk about hometown boys and what it means to them.

“But I’ve been here since I was 13. The bond I have, the relationship with people who work here and with the fans... you don’t just throw something like that away.”