On This Day: Remembering former Leeds United boss Jimmy Armfield and his real 'champions of Europe'

FORMER Leeds United manager Jimmy Armfield - who steered the Whites to becoming the real 'champions of Europe' - passed away three years ago on this day.

Friday, 22nd January 2021, 11:50 am
Updated Friday, 22nd January 2021, 11:54 am

Former legendary Blackpool and England defender and Bolton Wanderers boss Armfield succeeded Brian Clough in the Whites hotseat in October 1974 after Clough's ill-fated and short reign at Elland Road.

Clough had been appointed after the legendary Don Revie left the Whites for the England job having steered United to two league titles, two Inter-Cities Fairs Cups, an FA Cup, League Cup and a Charity Shield.

Clough lasted just 44 days before being dismissed after just one victory in eight games but England World Cup winner Armfield took over to steady the ship and took Leeds all the way to the 1975 European Cup final.

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HEROES' RETURN: Former Whites manager Jimmy Armfield leads out the Leeds United team to greet supporters on the steps of the Civic Hall in Leeds following the 1975 European Cup final in Paris. Picture by YPN.

Only Bayern Munich stood between Leeds becoming European champions yet it proved a case of Bayern Munich and referee Michel Kitabdjian.

After two penalty claims were ignored and Peter Lorimer saw a rasping strike disallowed for offside, goals from Franz Roth and Gerd Muller gave Bayern a 2-0 victory in Paris.

Yet there was no denying who were the real winners and Whites legend Eddie Gray knows it.

"I don't think there's any doubt that we were the better side," said Gray to the YEP last year.

"I think that's what the fans still sing what they do.

"I think the fans look back on that game and think 'okay, we were cheated out of the game but we will just take it as if we won the European Cup."'

It meant Leeds and Armfield were denied what should have been their greatest night ever but Armfield stayed at the club for three more seasons.

The Whites were unable to replicate the success of the Revie era but Armfield's side never finished out of the top ten and United made the semi-finals of the FA Cup in 1977 and League Cup in 1978.

Armfield was then dismissed and replaced by Jock Stein but Armfield went into media work and also worked as a consultant for the FA.

Armfield then announced in May 2007 that he had been undergoing chemotherapy treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma on his throat.

The cancer was successfully treated but Armfield then revealed he faced a second battle with the illness in 2016 and the former Whites boss passed away aged 82 on this day in 2018.

A man who will never be forgotten by football, in particular Blackpool, Bolton, England and of course his champions of Europe Leeds.

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Thank you Laura Collins