Leeds United began their life in 1919 following the disbanding of Leeds City FC. Their home-ground has been Elland Road ever since.
Over the years, the Whites have gone through many ups and downs. Currently, Leeds came back into the Premier League with a bang and much optimism accompanied by Marcelo Bielsa at helm. He certainly did take Championship by storm and many expect the Argentinian to do the same in English top tier making Leeds compete for the Premier League at some point.
Throughout Leeds United history, many legendary footballers have donned the famous white shirt in front of the West stand. In this article, we’ll rank the top 5 players to play for the Peacocks.
5. Jack Charlton (1952-73)
One-club player, Jack Charlton spent his entire youth and professional career at Leeds. The tall defender helped Leeds lift the Second Division and First Division titles in 1964 and 1969 respectively. He was also a part of the 1972 FA Cup winning Leeds squad. He remains the player with most appearances for Leeds United (773). His height was a great advantage for the Whites and that helped him score a lot of goals. Big Jack went on to score a whopping 96 goals for Leeds in all competitions and still sits 9th in the list of top scorers for the Whites. He was also a part of England’s World Cup-winning squad (1966) and won the Football Writers Association Footballer of the Year in 1967. He was inducted into English Football Hall of Fame in 2005. After retirement in 1973, he was offered the managerial position at Middlesborough, where he helped the Boro lift the second division in his first season as a manager. But his best-known coaching success came with the Republic of Ireland. In 2006, Leeds fans voted him into the club’s Greatest Ever XI.
4. Eddie Gray (1965-84)
Another Leeds legend, Eddie Gray also spent his entire career at Elland Road. He won two First Division titles with Leeds (1969 & 1974). He also won the FA Cup (1972) and the Charity Shield (1969) with the Peacocks. He made 577 appearances for Leeds in his 17-year club career scoring 68 goals. But none of those goals was better than his legendary goal against Burnley in 1970 when he dribbled past 7 players before scoring past the goalkeeper. That goal is still regarded as the greatest Leeds goal of all time.
Here’s the wondergoal…
He took the role of player-manager at Leeds in his last season as a player and remained their manager for three seasons. He was again appointed as a caretaker manager of Leeds in 2003.
3. John Charles (1949-57 & 1962)
John Charles began his professional career at Leeds as a centre-back. He established himself as one of the top defenders at that time because of his physical ability. However, in 1952, he was offered a new role as a centre-forward. He quickly adapted into his new role and scored 42 goals in just 39 games in 1953-54 season. He went on to score 157 goals for Leeds. This is why he rated by many as one of the greatest allrounders of all time. He was signed by Juventus in 1957 and he went on to win 3 Serie A and 2 Coppa Italia titles in Turin. He returned to Yorkshire in 1962 but couldn’t replicate his form and was sold to AS Roma after 11 games. Nicknamed the ‘Gentle Giant’ because of his non-violent philosophy and not receiving a single card his entire career. He is still Leeds’ 2nd highest goalscorer of all time, behind Peter Lorimer.
2. Peter Lorimer (1962-78 & 1983-85)
Lorimer signed for Leeds United in 1962 and quickly made his debut vs Southampton aged 15. To this date, he’s the youngest player to play for Leeds. He was known for his powerful and hard shots and that’s why Leeds fans used to call him “Hotshot”. One of his goals was measured at 90mph by a newspaper. He was also known for his deadly crosses from the right-wing. He made 703 appearances for Leeds in the two stints at Leeds. He broke the club record for most goals (238) in his second stint and remains the highest goalscorer of all time for Leeds. He also played in South Africa, Canada and Israel apart from England. Since 2013, he has held the position of club ambassador.
1. Billy Bremner (1959-76)
Was there really any doubt? Billy Bremner is the embodiment of Leeds United, having spent 17 years at Elland Road. He is undoubtedly the greatest Leeds player of all time. He made his debut against Chelsea at the age of 17. During his time at Leeds, the Whites won two First Divison titles (1969 & 1974), Second Division (1964), FA Cup (1972), League Cup (1968), Charity Shield (1969) and two Inter-Cities Fairs Cups (1968 & 1971). With Leeds, he reached the 1975 European Cup final but lost against Bayern Munich. He was one of the main reason for Leeds success in the 70s and early 80s. He made 772 appearances (2nd highest) and scored 115 goals during his stay at Elland Road. ‘King Billy’ won the FWA Footballer of the Year award in 1970. He moved to Hull City in 1976 and returned to Leeds as a manager in 1985. But he was sacked in 1988 after a poor start to the 1988-89 campaign. He died of heart-attack in 1997 and in 1999, a statue of Billy was erected outside Elland Road in tribute.