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'There is a bond that never dies' - John Giles pays glowing tribute to Norman Hunter after his death from Covid-19

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Leeds United's Norman Hunter in action with Queens Park Rangers Terry Venables. The legendary defender has died after contracting Covid-19. Action Images via Reuters

Leeds United's Norman Hunter in action with Queens Park Rangers Terry Venables. The legendary defender has died after contracting Covid-19. Action Images via Reuters

Action Images via Reuters

Leeds United's Norman Hunter in action with Queens Park Rangers Terry Venables. The legendary defender has died after contracting Covid-19. Action Images via Reuters

Former Ireland manager John Giles has paid a warm tribute to his long-time Leeds United team-mate Norman Hunter, labelling him an "exceptional character" after Hunter passed away at the age of 76, having contracted Covid-19.

And Giles added that Hunter's partnership with Jack Charlton at Leeds United was one of the best in the game at the time.

The central defender saw the "Bite Yer Legs" nickname awarded to him by Leeds fans due to his tigerish playing style

"I would regard him as a very, very good friend. He was an exceptional character and you could depend on him with your life," Giles told Off The Ball on Newstalk on Friday after he'd learned of Hunter's death.

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"He was very genuine, very modest and would never talk about himself. He felt privileged to play football at the level he was at. I played with him for 12 years, and it is honestly like being in the army together. Especially in those days, you had to stick together. There is a bond from that that never dies," added Giles, admitting that the inability to mark Hunter's passing, due to restrictions on COVID-19, was hard to take.

"I think we will have something when this stuff goes away. I think the Leeds lads will get together with Norman's family at some stage, I'd have no doubt about that. We won't let this go," Giles said.

Charlton and Hunter were a force to be reckoned with, Giles claimed.

"They would have played together for at least 10 years. It was a terrific partnership," Giles said.

"Hunter would play off Jack, cleaning up after him and he had a great knowledge of where to be as a defender. He read the game well, and could see the danger before it ever came near him. He could tackle as well."

Giles soldiered with Hunter for a long spell in the Leeds shirt but they almost missed out as Hunter was about to leave Leeds until Don Revie arrived.

"Before Don took over in 1961, the previous manager had released Norman. So, Don went and brought him back. I don't think he ever forgot how near he was not to making it," Giles said.

"He never lost his determination, even when he became established and played for England, I don't think he ever lost that thought of being discarded at 17.

"But I had left Manchester United too at 22 and had something to prove. Some of our lads had to be coached but they all worked hard had and had the ambition to do it.

"When they did make it then, they never lost that hunger and never got ahead of themselves. Don wouldn't have allowed it anyway"

Giles also told Newstalk about Hunter's nickname.

"It was an affectionate thing from the Leeds fans, it didn't bother him and he had a laugh about it. Apparently in the Cup final in 1972, they unveiled it in a big banner. But the fans loved him, and we all loved Norman," he said.

Online Editors