Leeds United legend Hunter dies aged 76 after battle with coronavirus

Norman Hunter England
The former England centre back had been hospitalised last week after testing positive for Covid-19, and his old club confirmed the sad news on Friday

Leeds United legend Norman Hunter has died aged 76 after testing positive for coronavirus, the Championship club announced on Friday.

Former centre-back Hunter had tested positive for Covid-19 last week and had been hospitalised as a result.

A statement on the club website said: "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 England national team also expressed their condolences on Twitter: "We're extremely saddened to learn of the passing of Norman Hunter at the age of 76. Norman was part of our World Cup-winning squad and won 28 caps for the Three Lions. All of our thoughts are with his family, friends and supporters at this time."

Born in October 1943, Hunter left school at 15 to become an electrician but was scouted by Leeds while playing for youth team Birtley Juniors and made his debut for the Yorkshire club at the age of 18, against Swansea on September 8, 1962.

He helped Don Revie’s side to a 2-0 victory and would go on to become one of the best centre-backs to ever play for Leeds.

Hunter spent 14 years with Leeds in the most successful period in the club's history, playing for them as they rose from the Second Division to win two league titles, a League Cup and reach the European Cup final in 1975, where they lost 2-0 to Bayern Munich. He was also the first ever winner of the PFA Player of the Year award, in 1974.

He made 726 appearances for Leeds, during which his combative style of play earned him the infamous nickname 'Bites Yer Legs'.

Hunter then played for Bristol City and Barnsley, where he finished his career in 1982. He also won 28 caps for England and was part of the World Cup-winning squad of 1966.

He had spells as Barnsley manager from 1980-84 and Rotherham United from 1985-87.

It is with Leeds that he will always be most closely associated, however, with a suite having been named after him at Elland Road. The club said he most recently attended a match last month, when Leeds faced Huddersfield in the Championship.

Football has been brought to a standstill by the coronavirus pandemic, with all major leagues across Europe postponed due to public health concerns. It remains to be seen when football can resume, with the 2019-20 season postponed indefinitely amid the current crisis.

Hunter's former team Leeds looked in good shape for a return to the Premier League for the first time since 2004, with the club sitting in the Championship automatic promotion places when the campaign was halted last month.