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England 1966 World Cup hero Norman Hunter dies after contracting coronavirus

By Vincent Ashitey
Norman Hunter
Norman Hunter
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England and Leeds United football legend Norman Hunter has died after testing positive for coronavirus.

The 76-year-old had been admitted to hospital earlier this week.

Hunter, who made 540 appearances for Leeds and earned 28 England caps, was part of the World Cup squad which won the tournament on home soil in 1966.

In a statement, Leeds United said the club hero had passed away this morning.

A spokesperson said: "Norman was taken to hospital last week after being diagnosed with COVID-19 and despite England continuing to battle and the best efforts of NHS staff, he sadly lost his fight earlier this morning.

"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."

Hunter married wife Susan two years after his World Cup triumph and the couple went on to have two children, Michael and Claire.

The centre-back made over 500 appearances for the Whites including the hugely successful period under boss Don Revie.

The tough-tackling defender won the nickname 'Bites Yer Legs' and lifted two league titles with the club.

Former Leeds teammate Gordon McQueen paid tribute to "a great man and a great player".

The Scot, who played alongside Hunter in Leeds' backline from 1972 until 1976, told talkSPORT: "He was a great player to play alongside. I remember my first game, the team was: four Bremner, five McQueen, six Hunter.

"He was a very, very skilful player. He wasn't just tough-tackling Norman, he was a great player as well, great skill, great ability.

"He was a great man and a great player. He was a great man, he was very, very modest and a great player as well, never went on about his playing ability, never went on himself as a human being.

"He was a great human being and a great player."

Former England goalkeeper Peter Shilton wrote on Twitter: "Very shocked and deeply saddened at the loss of Norman Hunter I played with him @England and continued to meet him at various football events over the years it was always great to catch up with him, a wonderful man Condolences to the family such a terrible loss."

Fellow 1966 World Cup hero Sir Geoff Hurst said: "Enormously shocked and saddened to hear the awful news about my friend Norman Hunter, he will be very sadly missed.

"My heartfelt thoughts are with his wife, Sue, his family and the England and Leeds United fans, a huge part of the 1966-70 England squad back in the day."

Ex-England midfielder Peter Reid, a former Leeds manager, wrote: "RIP Norman Hunter, a giant of a man."

Former Leeds striker Brian Deane, who played for the club between 1993 and 1997 and later in the 2004-05 season, added: "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."

Hunter lifted the FA Cup when Leeds defeated Arsenal 1-0 at Wembley in 1972 while also losing to AC Milan to the European Cup final three years later.

He was also part of the England 1966 World Cup winning squad but did not play in the tournament as captain Bobby Moore and Jack Charlton started ahead of him in the heart of defence.

Hunter ended his playing career with Barnsley in 1982 following a three-year spell with Bristol City.

He went on to manage Barnsley, Rotherham United and Bradford City.

Source: thesunfootball