Leeds United's greatest central defenders, do you agree?

20 May 2020 08:18 pm, by YorkshireSquare


The regular contributors to our message boards are spending lockdown debating the best Leeds United players for each position, they have just decided on our greatest central defenders.

Will John Charles make the list or are people holding their vote back for our greatest ever strikers? Paul Madeley made the lists for both right back and lest back, can the ultimate utility player make the list of greatest central defenders? Jack Charlton and Norman Hunter were the stallwarts of the Revie side, can anyone topple them from the top spots? Who is better in your view; Woodgate or Radebe? Does Rio Ferdinand’s move across the Pennines tarnish his reputation enough to exclude him from the list?


5) Rio Ferdinand (2000-2002)

Country: England | DOB: 07/11/1978 | Apps: 73 | Goals: 2



A supremely elegant footballer who defends with intelligence and guile, but also uses the ball when possession is gained. Leeds smashed not only the British transfer record, but also the world record fee for a defender to prise him away from Upton Park. Paying £18m for Ferdinand, a fee which sent shockwaves through the footballing world. The move undoubtedly benefited Rio, who improved his ability and claimed a spot in the England set-up as the old rearguard was phased out. At the 2002 World Cup he emerged as a truly world class defender. He was a rock as England went out to Brazil in the quarter-finals. He left for Man U for £29.3million. Player of the Year at Leeds in his final season, Ferdinand was a real favourite at Leeds, played 73 games for the club and scored three goals.


4) Lucas Radebe (1994-2005)

Country: South Africa | DOB: 12/04/1969 | Apps: 262 | Goals: 3



The versatile South African played in midfield, all along the back four and even in goal in a matter of weeks for United. Signed by Kaiser Chiefs in 1990 he soon gained his first cap before arriving at Leeds for £250,000 in 1994. The "Chief" as he is affectionately known is an absolute icon in his homeland. He led the South Africans to their first ever World Cup finals in 1998 and is an inspirational figure for aspiring footballers in that country. Due to injury, he missed the 2001/2002 season but made 26 appearances in a generally disappointing season for his club in the 2002/03 season. A stalwart clubman he took a cut in pay to remain at Leeds, but unfortunately was injured early in the 2004-05 season at Wolves. Capped 70 times he played 235 starts and 26 subs scoring 3 goals.


3) Jonathan Woodgate (1997-2003)

Country: England | DOB: 22/01/1980 | Apps: 142 | Goals: 4



He joined the club at the age of 13 and was part of the side that won the FA Youth Cup in 1997, moving to the first team regularly in 1998. His aerial abilities, combative nature and calmness on the ball led to him being earmarked as an England regular of the future. Indeed his superb first season was capped by a call up from Kevin Keegan to the full England squad at the tender age of 19. He had a wonderful 1999/2000 season until events off the pitch saw his form understandably dip. He agreed a new contract with Leeds in the summer of 2002 that would keep him at Elland Road for five years. Woodgate served nearly three years of suspension from international duty due to his court case. Woodgate moved to Newcastle in January 2003 and only 20 months later secured a move to Real Madrid.


2) Norman Hunter (1961-1976)

Country: England | DOB: 29/10/1943 | Apps: 724 | Goals: 21



A hard but skilful left half, nicknamed "Bites Yer Legs", he daunted opposition players at home and across Europe, with his bone crunching tackling. Despite playing second fiddle to the favoured Bobby Moore, he was still capped 28 times for England. In his 15 years at Leeds, he made 724 appearances, scoring 21 goals before moving on to Bristol City in 1976 and later, to Barnsley. He ended his professional football career managing Rotherham and later coaching at Leeds before becoming a match commentator for BBC Radio Leeds. Always one of the most popular members of the Revie side, Hunter always had time for fans.


1) Jack Charlton (1952-1973)

Country: England | DOB: 08/05/1935 | Apps: 762 | Goals: 95



"The Giraffe" of Revie's Leeds team and one of the most talented and respected centre halves in footballing history. Big Jack spent his entire footballing career at Leeds, making an astounding 733 appearances over 21 years and scoring 96 goals. His height was used to great advantage at Leeds corner kicks and his surprisingly agile defensive ability kept out even the greatest strikers of his day. He earned the first of his 35 England caps at the age of 30 and was an important part of the 1966 World Cup winning team. Jack retired from playing in 1973 and had mixed fortunes as a manager at several clubs, but his best known managerial success was with The Republic of Ireland.


It was decided, unsurprisingly, that Hunter and Charlton would be Leeds United’s best central defensive partnership. Do you agree? Join the debate on our message boards.