Former England and Leeds defender Norman Hunter has died aged 76.

Hunter, who made 28 appearances for the Three Lions and was part of the 1966 World Cup-winning squad, was last week admitted to hospital with coronavirus.

Leeds said in a statement: "Leeds United are devastated to learn of the passing of club legend Norman Hunter at the age of 76."

The statement on Leeds' website added: "Norman was taken to hospital last week after being diagnosed with Covid-19 and despite continuing to battle and the best efforts of NHS staff, he sadly lost his fight earlier (on Friday) morning.


READ NORMAN HUNTER'S OBITUARY


"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 did not play in England's triumphant World Cup campaign as he could not break the partnership of Jack Charlton and Bobby Moore.

He made 540 appearances for Leeds and won two First Division titles, the FA Cup, League Cup and two Inter-Cities Fairs Cups.

He also played for Bristol City and Barnsley, managing the Tykes after he retired, as well as Rotherham.

Former Leeds team-mate and colleague Johnny Giles, who was assisted by Hunter at West Brom, paid tribute to his late friend. 

"I would regard him as a very, very good friend," the ex-Ireland international told Newstalk. "He was an exceptional character and you could depend on him with your life.

"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."

Former Leeds star Gary McAllister said: "In the truest sense of the word he is a legend and he set the levels at Leeds.

"He was always very supportive when I was a player and the captain. As an ex-player he was always in and around the club and I got to know him pretty well.

"When you speak to his team-mates it was always Norman 'Bites Yer Legs' Hunter but, behind that, there was a quality footballer. He was a player, a top one. It's a sad day for everyone at the club and his family and my respects go to them.

"He was always very positive and looking at the positive things at Elland Road. He looked through Leeds United glasses, that's for sure, he was always very supportive.

"He was part of the Don Revie era. That was Leeds' greatest years. Howard (Wilkinson) won a league and other managers have done well but the Revie era and the team he played in were the best. Whenever you see that group together you can see how close they are.

"When you discuss players in different eras you talk about the physicality of Norman but top players adapt, he would have been a top player today."

Eddie Gray also paid tribute to his former Elland Road team-mate, telling talkSPORT: "Norman was an iconic figure in football, especially at the club.

"He had a reputation as everybody knows - 'Bites Yer Legs' - but Norman was a truly great football player.

"A lot of great players have walked through the gates of Elland Road and Norman was right up there with the best of them. It's a sad day for everybody connected with the club.

"He was a great reader of the game, great left foot on him, great passer of the ball, so influential in our team."
Former England striker and Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker joined the tributes to a player he fondly remembered watching during his formative years.

"Sad news: Norman Hunter has passed away," Lineker wrote on Twitter.

"Grew up watching that great @LUFC side of which he was a huge part. This awful virus was one crunching tackle too far but he'll be biting yer legs somewhere. RIP Norman."