Leeds United legend Trevor Cherry dies at the age of 72

Leeds United have lost another legend, with the news that Trevor Cherry has passed away suddenly and unexpectedly at 72.

Wednesday, 29th April 2020, 9:14 pm
CHAMPION: Trevor Cherry, a First Division champion with Leeds United, has died sudenly at the age of 72

A club statement tonight said: "Leeds United are shocked and deeply saddened by the news that club legend Trevor Cherry has passed away suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 72.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Trevor's wife Sue, sons Darren and Ian, daughter Danielle and his five grandchildren at this difficult time."

Huddersfield born, into a Terriers-supporting family, Cherry began his career with his hometown club before making his name as a classy defender with their rivals and near neighbours.

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LEGEND: Trevor Cherry wore the armband for Leeds United, won a First Division title and played for his country. Pic: Getty.

Cherry was a White for a decade, making 486 appearances, wearing the captain's armband, scoring 32 goals and winning a First Division title along with a place in club folklore alongside his fellow Revie boys.

Less than a fortnight after Cherry paid tribute to the life of Leeds team-mate Norman Hunter, he too has lost his.

The £100,000 summer 1972 move from the Terriers to Elland Road was one his father respected, despite his disappointment.

It was a move the 24-year-old could scarcely believe.

BIG STAGE: Cherry, front row far right, got the better of Barcelona's Johan Cruyff in the 1975 European Cup semi-final. Pic: Getty.

"It was an unbelievable move for me," he said.

"I remember when I heard Leeds United wanted me - in those days everyone could name their team."

Everyone could name the manager too, and Cherry was agog to discover that a man like Don Revie, and a club like Leeds, wanted to sign him.

That interest was enough to stave off the intentions of Birmingham City and Tottenham Hotspur.

Staying in his native county allowed Cherry to enjoy the comforts of home, but not everything remained familiar.

"It was a shock [move] really and a bigger shock to play left-back because I'd never played there in my life, up to then," he said.

"But Terry Cooper was out with a serious injury.

"It was fantastic to work under Don. It was just awesome the way he managed the players and I had nothing but total respect for him. All you had to do was play for him and compete.

"It was a bit of a change from Huddersfield where Ian Greaves was the manager. In training, we used to kick bricks out of each other, whereas Leeds never used to tackle much in training - although obviously made up for it on match-days.

"It was a case of 'after you' in training as opposed to Huddersfield.”

Cherry's life at Elland Road would bring glory and a reputation among supporters that saw him voted into the club's top 30 players.

But it got off to an inauspicious start.

“I wore the number three shirt and lined up in a back four alongside Roy Ellam, who had also joined Leeds from Huddersfield that summer," he said.

"Peter Lorimer had to go in goal after an injury to David Harvey and Chelsea ran out 4-0 winners.”

The 1973 FA Cup final defeat to Sunderland gutted the defender, who didn't want his runners-up medal.

A year later a more coveted one was hung around his neck as Revie's imperious Leeds side swept to the title by a five-point margin.

"I remember straight after [the cup final] the boss set his stall out to win the league the season after and thankfully we did quite comfortably," he said.

The winds of change blew through Elland Road that summer as Revie took the England job and Brian Clough took his place at Leeds.

It was the dawn of a new era, but Cherry still felt well treated by the new boss, who he felt had a bark far worse than his bite.

Clough didn't last, however, and Jimmy Armfield was the boss who left Cherry out of the controversial 1975 European Cup final defeat to Bayern Munich, despite the defender besting Barcelona's Johan Cruyff in the semi-final.

"The European Cup was my other big disappointment. I'd played in all the rounds, but Jimmy Armfield saw fit to pick the old team who had been there from the beginning, which obviously, I didn't agree with," said Cherry.

"With the greatest respect to some of them, they were getting older, which we all do. So that didn't go down too much."

He wouldn't leave Leeds until 1982, but by then Revie, the man who had given him his first big 'step up,' had also handed him the first of 27 England caps.

"There were lots more highlights," he said.

"Winning the league was probably the main one, while captaining the club and playing for England was right up there. But there was so many. Actually just joining them was a tremendous step up for my career.

"It would have been nice to lift a trophy as captain, but it was a time when we'd peaked, if you like.

"Some good lads came through, but the club slipped away from the big boys.

"But I was always happy to stay. To be honest, at one point, I could have gone to Southampton, when Kevin Keegan was there, and Man City. But it didn't seem right and I liked Leeds.

"They lifted my career and enabled me to play for England and it doesn't get any better than that.”

Again, Cherry stayed in Yorkshire and went on to become player-manager at Bradford City, adding another highlight by capturing a Division Three title, won in the last game he ever played.

He managed the Bantams through the club's most tragic and difficult period, when a fire killed 56 fans and forced a move to Odsal and then Leeds Road.

Shortly after their return to Valley Parade in 1987, Cherry was sacked and a post-football life began, bringing more success.

He ran a sports promotion and hospitality business, SLP Consultancy Ltd, in Huddersfield and was awarded an honorary degree by the town's university in November 2005.

Cherry always looked back fondly on his time with Leeds and was present along with many of his old team-mates when the club celebrated its centenary last year, Johnny Giles joining Eddie Gray and Hunter on stage to represent their generation and re-tell their stories.

When Hunter passed away after a battle with coronavirus on April 17, Cherry was quick to pay tribute to his fellow defender and friend, a man with whom he had plenty in common.

“We probably complemented each other as I liked a tackle and Norman did," he said.

“Our job was to win the ball and give it to the lads who could play.

“I know we are talking about different times, but Norman was an ‘honest kicker’, a bit like myself in a way.

“We were very similar in a lot of ways and we got on well.

“Norman was a great competitor and he loved Leeds United – simple as that – having started there as a kid.

“He was also a tremendous player."

It takes one to know one.