EDDIE GRAY: Norman Hunter was a man who had time for everyone

EDDIE GRAY: He had such a caring side… people talked about his aggressive nature but Norman Hunter was a man who had time for everyone

  • Norman Hunter could put the fear into his opponents before a ball was kicked 
  • But the defender had a caring side and always looked out for his team-mates
  • He could pick a pass with a great left foot and was a great reader of the game 
  • Leeds being promoted back to the Premier League would be a perfect tribute 

Norman ‘Bites Yer Legs’ Hunter… he didn’t mind that nickname, it put the fear of God into a lot of opponents before we’d even kicked a ball.

But really, that wasn’t Norman. People talk about this aggressive nature, he was nothing like that. He was a great lad, a great man, quiet if anything. He just loved his football and played the game in a very enthusiastic way.

When I signed for Leeds in 1966, Don Revie used to organise Scotland v England games in training. It would be me, Peter Lorimer, Bobby Collins and Billy Bremner up against the likes of Norman and Big Jack Charlton.

Leeds United hero and World Cup winner Norman Hunter died at the age of 76 on Friday 

Former team-mate Eddie Gray said he had a caring side in contrast to his no-nonsense play

Well, as you can imagine, those games used to get out of hand, some of the challenges… and Norman wasn’t shy in coming forward.

He was a terrific player and we must remember that. He could read the game, pass the ball and had a great left foot.

I met him when I was 14 and came down from Glasgow at Christmas of 1962. Don took me training with the first team and Norman was a young player just breaking through — no, he didn’t try to kick me!

The defender was a terrific player who read the game and could the ball with a great left foot

He played the game the way it was meant to be played. Not from a physical point of view, but with his enthusiasm. He was very competitive in everything: football, golf, whatever it was, that was his nature.

He had a caring side. I remember him waiting to help Mick Jones up the Wembley steps after the 1972 FA Cup final — that was him, a mate was struggling and he wanted to help.

It wasn’t long ago that I last saw him. He was doing an event at a local football club, Harrogate Railway. I went down with a mate of mine to watch him.

It was just at the time the virus was starting and there were no handshakes or anything. But he was on great form, Norman always was, a friend you could laugh with.

Someone sent me a video not that long ago, and it was Norman talking about how lucky he was to have played football since he was 15 and to have made a living out of it. He always appreciated everything he had, that was his outlook. He loved every minute of it.

Hunter was an iconic figure at Elland Road but was also humble and had time for everyone

There are not many players who have got as much out of the talent they had. Don knew that and Norman was one of the first names on our team-sheet. You could depend on him, he set the standard.

There have been a lot of great players through the gates at Elland Road but Norman is right up there with the best.

He was an iconic figure but was humble with it. He had time for everyone. He still did his bit at Elland Road in the Norman Hunter Suite and he loved being among the fans.

He was looking forward so much to seeing Leeds back in the Premier League. I just hope that happens, there would be no better tribute.

Leeds being promoted back to the Premier League would be the perfect tribute for their hero

Eddie Gray was a team-mate of Norman Hunter at Leeds United between 1966-76. He was talking to Craig Hope.

 

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