Football community comes together to pay tribute to Leeds United legend Norman Hunter
The former Whites defender has died aged 76
Leeds United chairman Andrea Radrizzani has led tributes from the football community for club legend Norman Hunter following his death aged 76.
Hunter, who remained a club ambassador at Elland Road, was diagnosed with coronavirus last week and lost his battle with the illness on Friday, the club confirmed.
Those connected to Elland Road, and the wider football world, have all paid tribute to the former Whites defender who was an instrumental figure under Don Revie as he helped propel Leeds to the top of the English game and claim a number of trophies - including the 1972 FA Cup.
United owner Andrea Radrizzani said: “Dear Norman, it was a real honour to spend time with you at our centennial celebration.
“I will bring with me forever your good memories and especially one sentence you said, “I knew that the first tackle would be a free bonus from the referee so I could go out and show how the game would be to an opponent.
“This is how I want to remember you: fighting for our colours.”
The club said it was “devastated” as it shared its own tribute.
“He leaves a huge hole in the Leeds United family, his legacy will never be forgotten and our thoughts are with Norman’s family and friends at this very difficult time,” the club statement said.
Club captain Liam Cooper added: “Over 700 games, he won everything that there is to win, 20 plus caps for his country and involved in a World Cup winning squad!
“But he was a lot more than that. An amazing person with a massive heart. Rest in Peace Norman.
“We will do you proud.”
Former Whites captain Lucas Radebe led the tributes from past players.
“Very sad to hear about the passing of legend Norman Hunter,” Radebe tweeted.
“Thoughts and prayers are with his family and all at Leeds United. Got to know him well and he was an absolute gent.”
Tony Dorigo added: “RIP Norman Hunter. Devastated. What a lovely lovely man who will be greatly missed by me and everyone who came across him. The Leeds United and football family have lost a giant.
“We all looked up to you Norm, and we always will. Thoughts with his family at this difficult time.”
Former manager Peter Reid also sent his condolences, saying: “RIP Norman Hunter, a giant of a man.”
Leeds United Supporters’ Trust paid tribute on behalf of the clubs fans.
A statement read: “For many fans of the club, Norman Hunter is Leeds United. An icon. A hero.
“He was a true gentleman and will be remembered for his warm personality, charm and wit.
“Those who were lucky enough to have met him all speak extremely highly of him, and each seem to have a unique story or memory.
“He remained close to the club and his teammates long after his retirement, and was an excellent ambassador for Leeds United, as well as a fantastic human being.”
Stuart Dallas also sent a message, as did Luke Ayling and Barry Douglas.
“Heartbreaking news,” Dallas said. “My thoughts are with his friends and family at this difficult time. RIP Norman.”
Ayling added: “Devastating news! Lucky enough to have met and chatted with him more than a couple of times. Legend of a player and a man. RIP Norman.”
“Such tragic news condolences to his family at this difficult time,” Douglas tweeted. Dominic Matteo and Brian Deane also remembered the great man.
“Heartbroken to hear the news this morning,” Matteo siad. “A great man in every sense of the word stolen from us by this horrific virus. My love and prayers are with Susanne Claire and Michael.”
Deane tweeted: “When I first joined the club it’s no secret I struggled to settle in. My Mum used to listen to the games on the radio and she used to say ‘Brian you’ve got a friend in Norman Hunter. Thank you Norman you wonderful man.”
The wider football world also came together, as former striker Gary Linekar saluted the Whites legend, who paid tribute to Hunter’s “crunching tackles” during his time as a player.