Leeds United: Their Greatest Players Ever
02 Sep 2021 08:55 pm, by YorkshireSquare
Who are the greatest Leeds players of all time? As we embark on another all-time top ten, it is important to remember that there is always a significant element of subjectivity when it comes to compiling such lists and comparing players over the hundred-plus years which the Whites have been there to make us roar, cheer, and cry. While it might be fairly easy to compare the striking credentials of, say, contemporaries Jermain Beckford and Patrick Bamford, it is a more complicated matter comparing players of different positions, and more complicated still comparing players of different eras.
In fact, when going after the “big one” and attempting to compile a list of Leeds United’s greatest players ever, the list is almost inevitably going to be as unique as it is subjective. Leeds is a club that, more than most, has had a rollercoaster history of up-and-down fortunes. At any given the time over the last 30 years, for example, Leeds have been either top choices for Premier League betting or a sure-fire way to lose money.
Fans often think of the Financial Crisis, the fall to League One, and the controversial and turbulent Cellino period for the club. Yet such rocky fortunes often mask the fact that Leeds have at times been among the best clubs in the country and, one hundred years into their existence, have produced a roster of legendary players to rival any other British club.
And yet, a greatest ever list will always be controversial, and a Leeds United one all the more so. Nevertheless, here follows one conception of what should constitute the club’s hall of fame.
10. Nigel Martin
It is no small matter to get to the quarter finals of the Champions League, and more impressive still to eliminate the mighty Barcelona in the process. And yet, that is exactly what the Peacocks managed, all the while having keeper Nigel Martin guarding the net. Probably the greatest keeper Leeds have ever had.
9. Norman Hunter
A solid defender, Norman Hunter also (perhaps unfairly) garnered a bit of a reputation for aggressive behaviour on the pitch. That aside, the goal scoring centre-back and ’66 veteran formed a rock-solid defence for the club. He also a netted 21 goals over his time for the team.
8. Gordon Strachan
One of the peculiarly large number of Scots who have made their mark at Leeds, Strachan came to the club after falling out with Alex Ferguson after a storied career at Manchester United. Appearing 311 times between 1988 and 1996, Strachan netted 57 goals, and even got his revenge on Fergie after Leeds overtook Manchester United to win the last ever Division One league title in 1992.
7. Allan Clarke
Legendary striker Allan Clarke was a goal-scoring machine for Leeds between 1969 and 1978, putting away 151 goals for the club during that time. Famously nicknamed “Sniffer”, this was a Leeds-bestowed nickname that referred to his impressive ability to find goal-scoring opportunities which nobody else could see.
6. Johnny Giles
Johnny Giles is a player who dates from Leeds’s golden years under Don Revie. Forming a lethal double-act with “King Billy” Bremner, Giles put away 114 goals for the club over a twelve-year tenure.
5. Joe Jordan
Another Scot to play for Leeds from an era when there were so many that an informal “Scottish Mafia” was said to be operating at the club. Jordan did not have the most auspicious start for Leeds, frequently failing to get into the first team. However, his tenure, which spanned the 1970s and ended when Leeds were at their all-time peak, saw 35 goals in 170 appearances.
4. Eddie Gray
Over the course of a near twenty-year stint at Leeds, Eddie Gray was an invaluable winger who played through some of the club’s most glorious years. Yet despite those 577 appearances, Gray is perhaps best remembered for only a single goal: that scored against Burnley in which he flicked and back-heeled his way past defender after defender – all before deftly tapping the ball into the back of the net.
3. John Charles
A nifty and skilled player who scored 157 goals in 327 appearances, John Charles was a centre-forward who put in a good long shift at Leeds. Remarkably for a player in his position, Charles was never once sent off over the course of his entire footballing career. Never intentionally kicking or hurting the opposition (during a period of footballing history when that was fairly common) Charles was nicknamed “the gentle giant”.
2. Peter Lorimer
Another long-time Leeds stalwart, Peter Lorimer put in 703 appearances for the club and scored a seriously impressive 238 goals. Nicknamed “Lash” by fans, Lorimer was an attacking midfielder par excellence. He was also known for the power he put behind each shot; one of his balls was clocked as moving at 90 mph – straight into the back of the net.
1. Billy Bremner
A legend north of the border for his performances for the Scottish national team, Billy Bremner’s greatest club triumphs will nevertheless always be associated with Leeds. A stocky and tough midfielder, Bremner captained Leeds through the august 60s and 70s and always played with a noticeable passion for the Yorkshire club, which came to see him as their own.