Former Leeds United star of Revie era Paul Madeley dies aged 73

Paul Madeley
Paul Madeley

Paul Madeley, the ‘Rolls Royce’ of Don Revie’s legendary Leeds United squad, has died at the age of 73.

Madeley, who began and ended his professional career with Leeds and played 724 times for the club, passed away today after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease.

Known for his versatility and quality in a number of different positions, his influence at Elland Road spawned the phrase ‘The Eleven Pauls’ and earned him his ‘Rolls Royce’ nickname.

He held his place as a first-team player for almost 20 years before retiring in 1980.

His career spanned the success of the Revie era and saw him claim numerous honours in the 1960s and 1970s as Leeds emerged as serious contenders in England and abroad.

A statement released by Madeley’s family tonight said: “Paul Madeley passed away peacefully today surrounded by his family in Leeds.

“Paul was a much-loved husband, father and brother and the family are extremely proud of his achievements in life and on the field for Leeds United and England.

“He was born in Beeston, a stone’s throw from Elland Road, and only ever played and supported Leeds United.

“The late Don Revie christened him his ‘Roll Royce’ and to us he was just that - a class act as a husband and a father who always had time for everyone he met.

“Paul’s wife Ann and sons Jason and Nick would like to thank everyone for their support and well wishes. At this difficult time we ask for privacy as we grieve a great loss.”

Leading the tributes tonight, former team-mate Eddie Gray described Madeley as “good enough to play anywhere you asked him to.”

“He was a smashing footballer and ‘the Rolls Royce’ nickname was right,” Gray said.

“He maybe isn’t mentioned quite as much as some other players from that era but if anyone ever lists the best Leeds United team without him in it, I’d always ask ‘where’s Paul Madeley?’

“Don loved him because he was good enough to play anywhere you asked him to - centre-back, up front, out wide. It didn’t matter.

He had the talent for it and he was invaluable. He was never under-rated by any of the players around him.

“With Paul you were talking about a proper athlete. Right the way through his career he was always so fit and he never seemed to be injured. His record of 700 appearances tells you that. He had a phenomenal career”

Born in Leeds in 1944, Madeley joined Leeds from non-league Farsley Celtic in 1962 and made his debut in 1964.

He was capped 24 times by England but turned down a chance to travel to the 1970 World Cup.

The late Jimmy Armfield, who managed Leeds to the European Cup final in 1975, wrote of Madeley’s devotion to United in his autobiography, Right Back to the Beginning. “He once actually signed a new contract on what was virtually a blank piece of paper,” Armfield recalled.

“I called him in to discuss terms and opened discussions by saying, ‘Okay Paul, we’ll give you so much’. He replied that he had no intention of leaving Leeds so he might as well sign the contract and let me fill in the details.

“I said ‘What do you want, then, two years or three years?’ He answered ‘Either way, I’ll leave it to you. I just want to play for Leeds.’ And that was that.”