Even though the fact that Leeds have been out of the English top division for the past many years, they are still one of the biggest club in the country. The fan following of the club is massive. There have been some great Leeds’ side over the years.
The iconic Leeds side of the 1960s and ‘70s won consistently both at home and abroad under Don Revie are undoubtedly the finest team the club has ever produced. Howard Wilkinson’s Leeds of the early 1990s won one championship, while David O’Leary’s side of the late 90s and early 2000s threatened to achieve big things without ever really fulfilling their potential. In their rich history, many great players have played for the club. In this article, we will have a look at the greatest Leeds United XI of all time.
Considering the loyalty, legacy, impact, success and work rate, here’s the greatest Leeds United XI of all time.
Perhaps one of the most underrated goalkeepers of the modern era, Nigel Martyn never quite got the recognition he perhaps deserved during his time with both Leeds and England.
But when he joined the club in 1996 for a British record fee of £2.25million for a goalkeeer, few would know how good he would be.
And, with sharp reflexes and agility, he remained the club’s first choice throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, playing a pivotal role in their UEFA Cup semi-final run in 2000 as well as their march to the Champions League semi-finals the following year. He deserves to be a part of the greatest Leeds United XI of all time.
Right Back : Paul Reaney
Reaney was one of the first fullbacks to assume an “overlapping wing technique”. His pinpoint crossing to the Leeds attack one minute was matched by his ability to pop up and clear off the Leeds goal line the next. He quickly earned a reputation as a fiercely competitive, disciplined defender, capable of closing out the most talented of attackers. George Best rated Reaney as one of the two best defenders he played against.
Reaney made nearly 750 appearances during a spell at Elland Road that lasted around 17 years. In that time he would help United win the league title and Fairs Cup twice each, the FA Cup and League Cup on one occasion and help the Whites reach a European Cup final.
His ability to deal with some of the finest wingers the game has ever seen, including Best, with minimal fuss that made him such a key man in Leeds’ side. He was one of the reasons why he deserves to be a part of the greatest Leeds United XI of all time.
Centre-back – Jack Charlton
Our first pick at centre-back is Jack Charlton, who was a real one-club man. He only played for Leeds United throughout his career and he made over 750 appearances for the Whites during his time there.
Charlton was part of the England team that won the 1966 World Cup. He is the elder brother of former Manchester United player Bobby Charlton, who was also a teammate in England’s World Cup final victory.
Jack was certainly one of the most talented defenders of his generation, if not of all-time. He was an integral part of the Leeds side that climbed the mountain from the Second Division and remained at the summit for several years.
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. His 629 league and 762 total competitive appearances are club records. In 2006, Leeds United supporters voted Charlton into the greatest Leeds United XI of all time.
Centre-back – Norman Hunter
Norman Hunter was a hard but skilful left half, nicknamed “Bites Yer Legs”. He daunted opposition players at home and across Europe, with his bone crunching tackling. He was a brave, uncompromising and at times cynical central defender, his reputation as a hard man overshadowed his ability on the ball.
Hunter had sound technique and could build possession well from the back with his left foot, was fast and had a good understanding of the game, something which – when coupled with his firm approach to stopping opponents – made him a complete defender.
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. He was admired by the Leeds United fans and other players for his playing skills as well as his impressive defensive abilities. He helped United win the league title, League Cup, FA Cup and Fairs Cup twice during his first decade with the club.
Left-back – Terry Cooper
In 1961 a daring teenager turned up at Elland Road and asked, presumably with hope rather than expectation, for a trial. The teenager’s name was Terry Cooper, and he would not only earn a deal with Leeds, but would go on to become the club’s greatest ever left-back.
With his iconic white boots, we would dominate down the left-hand side with some blistering runs and he’s the man that some attribute the more modern-day attacking wing-back to.
Cooper also left a lasting legacy in a tactical sense; his forward raids down the left hand-side, both underlapping and overlapping, were a key part of Revie’s Leeds’ attacking arsenal and set a trend that future full-backs would follow. He deserves a place in the greatest Leeds United XI of all time.