'He made my life much easier': Hunters' former team-mate pays tribute

‘He made my life so much easier’: Norman Hunter’s former team-mate Trevor Cherry pays tribute to the legendary Leeds defender

  • Former Leeds player Trevor Cherry won the First Division with Norman Hunter 
  • The legendary centre-back sadly passed away from coronavirus on Friday 
  • The club was rocked by the news, and Cherry pays tribute to his old team-mate 
  • Cherry credits Hunter with improving him and helping him into the England side
  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID

Trevor Cherry was signed by Don Revie from Huddersfield in 1972 and helped Leeds to the First Division title alongside Norman Hunter two years later. The defender, who won 27 caps for England, spent a decade at Elland Road and remembers his team-mate with great fondness.

Even before we became team-mates at Leeds United, I knew plenty about Norman Hunter. 

Under instruction from Ian Greaves, my manager at Huddersfield, I would go to Elland Road to watch him play on European nights. 

I loved seeing the likes of Billy Bremner, Johnny Giles and Eddie Gray but, as a defender, Norman inspired me. It never crossed my mind that I would end up playing alongside him.

Trevor Cherry has paid tribute to Norman Hunter, who passed away from coronavirus on Friday

Cherry credits Hunter as a defending inspiration for him before joining him at Leeds United

When I did join Leeds, my positional sense was not bad but playing with Norman undoubtedly made me better and helped me get into the England side. He competed for everything and was also a good talker. Dave Mackay was my big hero when I was a kid but Norman was on a par because he was such a competitor.

Playing with defenders like Norman made my life easier because if I made a mistake there was always someone to clean up for you. He had a claw of a left peg and stood out because of that, along with his physical presence and the way he presented himself. He was someone you did not want to be going past too many times!

He won 28 England caps but it would have been many more had it not been for Bobby Moore. Arguably, Norman was a better league player whereas Bobby was more suited to the international stage.

The defending pair teamed up at Leeds during Cherry’s decade-long stay at Elland Road 

Cherry insists playing with a talent such as Hunter made his days at Leeds easier 

When Norman and Franny Lee got sent off for fighting when we played Derby at the Baseball Ground in 1975, I was in the middle of it trying to split them up. To this day I don’t know what happened. 

They had been in England squads together but something kicked off and Norman hit him. In those days you could still wear rings and Norman cut Franny’s lip. Franny completely lost it and went for Norman again after they had been sent off and then again in the players’ lounge.

When we won the league title in 1974 after going 29 games unbeaten, I won a few awards in what was probably my best season and Norman was crowned the inaugural PFA’s Players’ Player of the Year. 

Cherry believes he dramatically improved from playing alongside the legendary defender

Hunter was famed for his tough tackling, but also possessed superb positional sense 

It was a great season for us. We had Norman and big Jack (Charlton) at centre-half, Paul Reaney at right-back and myself at left-back. We went on an unbelievable run, had a bit of a wobble at the end but ran out worthy champions.

As an Elland Road regular, I often see Eddie and Peter on matchdays but sadly not Norman any longer. Paul Reaney phoned me on Friday with the awful news of his passing. 

Sue, Norman’s wife, wanted the lads to know before the news got out, which shows how close we all are. He was a fantastic guy who liked his golf and loved his family and Leeds United.

The biggest tribute to his memory would be for Leeds to get promoted to the Premier League.

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