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Norman Hunter (footballer)

Norman Hunter (born 29 October 1943)[1] is an English former footballer who played for Leeds United, Bristol City, Barnsley and England.

Norman Hunter
Hunter (right) and Bobby Charlton (left), 1969
Personal information
Date of birth (1943-10-29) 29 October 1943 (age 76)
Place of birth Eighton Banks, Gateshead, County Durham, England
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Playing position Centre back
Youth career
1959–1962 Leeds United
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1962–1976 Leeds United 540 (18)
1976–1979 Bristol City 108 (4)
1979–1982 Barnsley 31 (0)
Total 679 (22)
National team
1965–1974 England 28 (2)
Teams managed
1980–1984 Barnsley
1985–1987 Rotherham United
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

He was part of the 1966 FIFA World Cup winning squad, receiving a winner's medal in 2007.[2] He has since been included in the Football League 100 Legends. Known for his tackling, he was nicknamed "Bites Yer Legs" Hunter. The nickname originated from a banner held up by Leeds United fans at the 1972 FA Cup final against Arsenal; the banner simply read "Norman bites yer legs". Brian Clough effectively popularised the nickname by referring to it during the pre-match discussion in the TV studio.

Leeds UnitedEdit

Hunter joined Leeds at the age of 15, giving up a job as an electrical fitter in the process. He made his first-team debut in 1962, forming a partnership at the back with Jack Charlton which lasted for a decade.

Leeds were promoted as Second Division champions in 1964 and a year later came close to the "double" of League championship and FA Cup; however, they lost the title to Manchester United on goal average and were beaten 2–1 by Liverpool in the FA Cup final.

Hunter picked up winner's medals as Leeds won the League Cup, the Fairs Cup in 1968 and 1971, and the League Championship in 1969 and 1974.

In 1972, Leeds won the FA Cup via a goal from Allan Clarke. Hunter's joy at the goal was captured in a photograph; his defensive position meant that he was at the opposite end of the pitch to Clarke, and a photographer behind the Leeds goal captured the moment as Hunter leapt high in the air in celebration with arms and legs spread, as if in the midst of a star-jump. At the end of the game, Hunter climbed the steps to the Royal box twice; once to collect his own medal, and then again to help Mick Jones negotiate his way up and down, as Jones had been receiving treatment for a dislocated elbow while his teammates had been getting their prizes.

1973 saw defeats in two finals, as Leeds lost in the FA Cup Final to Sunderland, and then a few days later to A.C. Milan in the European Cup Winners' Cup. This match is one of a series of matches involving Italian clubs that are regarded as being "fixed", by Dezso Solti. Hunter was sent-off in this match for retaliation.

In 1974, Hunter was the first winner of the PFA Players' Player of the Year award, receiving it at the end of the 1973–74 season.

Hunter had a new defensive partner for the next season with Leeds, playing alongside Gordon McQueen. Leeds started the season with a 29-match unbeaten run, which led them to the title. He was a member of the Leeds side that reached the 1975 European Cup Final, which Leeds lost 2–0.

Bristol CityEdit

After 540 Football League appearances for Leeds, Hunter signed for Bristol City on 28 October 1976 for £40,000, and remained there for three years, making 108 appearances and scoring four goals. His final game for Bristol City was against Leeds United.


In June 1979 Hunter joined Barnsley as a player and made 31 appearances before finally retiring from playing in January 1983.

Managerial careerEdit

Hunter was appointed Barnsley manager on 16 September 1980 after Clarke left to take over as manager at Leeds United. That season, Hunter took Barnsley to second in the Third Division in the 1980–81 season. Barnsley finished sixth the following season and if not for a poor run in February could have been promoted. At the end of that season though the side began to break up and whilst they got to the fifth round of the FA Cup the following season they could only finish 11th. In 1983–1984 the team struggled after a fairly good start, and with the team fifth from bottom Hunter was sacked on 8 February 1984. A week after that he became a first team coach at West Bromwich Albion until June 1985.

In June 1985 Hunter moved to Rotherham United, but he could not replicate the success that he achieved at Barnsley in the early years, and was sacked on 9 December 1987.

In 1989, he became a coach at Bradford City but was sacked in February 1990.

International careerEdit

Hunter made his debut for the England team in 1965, but the existing partnership between Jack Charlton and Bobby Moore meant that he spent much of his international career as an understudy, winning 28 caps in total. He was in the squad which won the 1966 World Cup but never kicked a ball.

Hunter scored the winning goal against Spain in England's quarter-final qualifying round for the 1968 European Championships, he then started in both the 1–0 semi final defeat to Yugoslavia and the 2–0 victory over the Soviet Union in the bronze medal match. He spent a short part of the 1970 season injured but he was in Alf Ramsey's squad for the summer's World Cup in Mexico, however his only appearance in the tournament was coming on as a late substitute in the 3–2 defeat by West Germany.

In 1973, Hunter was in the England team which needed to win their last qualifying tie for the 1974 World Cup in West Germany. The opposition at Wembley were Poland, who just needed a draw to qualify at England's expense. It was 0–0 when Hunter went to make a tackle, but instead trod on the ball and lost it. Poland quickly made a counterattack and scored. Allan Clarke equalised with a penalty but England could not score again, and the 1–1 draw saw them miss out on a place at the World Cup. Another photograph from Hunter's career was one of him in an inconsolable state being led off the pitch by Harold Shepherdson and Bobby Moore, whose place in the side he had taken. Moore himself had made a similar mistake when England had lost 2–0 in Poland on 6 June that year.

Post-playing and managerial careerEdit

Hunter turned to the after-dinner circuit recounting his anecdotes, and since 1993 has worked for local station BBC Radio Leeds and Yorkshire Radio as a summariser at Leeds games.

In 1998, the Football League, as part of its centenary season celebrations, included Hunter on its list of 100 League Legends.

Hunter released his autobiography, Biting Talk, in 2004.

He has been married to his wife Susan since 11 June 1968. They have a son and daughter, and three grandchildren.

In the 1966 World Cup final only the 11 players on the pitch at the end of the 4–2 win over West Germany received medals. Following a Football Association led campaign to persuade FIFA to award medals to all the winners' squad members, Hunter was presented with his medal by Gordon Brown at a ceremony at 10 Downing Street on 10 June 2009.[3]

In 2009, he was portrayed by actor Mark Cameron in the film The Damned United which was centred on Brian Clough's ill-fated 44-day spell as Leeds United manager in 1974.[4]

In 1993, he helped teach children to play football at Beechwood Primary School in Leeds.


His nickname "Bites yer legs" stemmed from his strength in the tackle. When Hunter himself suffered a broken leg, club trainer Les Cocker was informed that "Hunter had broken a leg" and responded with "whose is it?" .[2]

Career statisticsEdit


Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
1962–63 Leeds United Second Division 36 2
1963–64 42 2
1964–65 First Division 41 2
1965–66 41 5
1966–67 40 0
1967–68 40 2
1968–69 42 0
1969–70 35 1
1970–71 42 1
1971–72 42 0
1972–73 32 1
1973–74 42 0
1974–75 25 1
1975–76 31 1
1976–77 9 0
1976–77 Bristol City First Division 31 0
1977–78 38 3
1978–79 39 1
1979–80 Barnsley Third Division 24 0
1980–81 6 0
1981–82 Second Division 0 0
1982–83 1 0
Total England 679 22
Career total 679 22


  1. ^ "England players: Norman Hunter". englandfootballonline. 6 April 2016. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  2. ^ "England squad set for 1966 medals". BBC Sport. 26 November 2007. Retrieved 26 November 2007.
  3. ^ World Cup 1966 winners honoured
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ "Norman Hunter". National Football Teams. Benjamin Strack-Zimmerman.

External linksEdit