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If you were building the complete footballer, what attributes would you give them?

  • Kick with both feet?
  • Play anywhere?
  • Defend and attack with equal ability?
  • Rarely injured?
  • Consistent?

Yeah sure, you might give them one or two other qualities. But I reckon you’d probably agree these would form part of your most complete footballer.

Well then, you’ve just described Paul Madeley.

I like my footballers with a bit of flair, I also like them to be flawed. I have this idea the genius inside them is so strong and powerful they struggle to control it. Sometimes the ideas in their head are so vibrant and loud, it makes them do things you wouldn’t expect. The idea of the body just going off and behaving in a way the brain has no idea why, is captivating. As if, like us, the player is enjoying the ride and wondering where it will take them. Yeah, you could say I love a Maverick.

Paul Madeley was nothing like this. He didn’t have a powerful shot. He wouldn’t ping a pass from one side of the pitch to the other. He couldn’t ‘tackle like Moore’.

But what Madeley had and did for his team was everything the Maverick couldn’t.

They say behind every successful man is a woman clearing up after him. Well, Madeley was that player who would clear up after the stars of the team. He was always there, dependable, loyal, consistent. He was the worker, the “water-carrier,” the honest pro.

He could do everything the Mavericks couldn’t. Their inabilities were his abilities.

There can’t be many players of the past fifty years who have played in every outfield position on a football pitch. Madeley did.

A Man for All Positions

These were the days when the number on the back of your shirt signified the position you took on the pitch. This was a continuation of the old “M-W” formations from pre-War days when you knew where to find the number 11 on the pitch or the number 3.

Through the 1920’s, 1930’s and on through the 1950’s and 1960’s, a right-winger would wear number 7 and a left winger would wear 11.

So the fact Paul Madeley wore every different number at various stages throughout his career tells you, he played in every different position.

What you have to remember is these were the days of one substitute. So if your left-back was injured in the game and the one substitute you named was a striker, then you had to move your players around.

Players like Madeley were a godsend for a squad.

His characteristics such as loyalty, dependability and consistency meant he was virtually priceless.

Early Days

Paul Edward Madeley was born in the Beeston area of Leeds in 20th September 1944. He signed for Leeds United from non-league Farsley Celtic in May 1962.

Leeds United

If you were writing about English football of the late sixties/early seventies then undoubtedly the first club you’d talk about is Leeds United.

Don Revie had taken over the club in 1961 when they were struggling to avoid relegation to the third tier of the Football League. He got them up to the First Division by 1964. Their first season back in the top flight saw them finish second to Manchester United. They only missed winning the title on ‘goal ratio,’ which was a method for separating teams on the same number of points.

Divide goals scored by goals conceded and there you have goal ratio. They repeated the feat the following year when Bill Shankly won the second of his three titles at Liverpool. By season 1968-69, they had won their first ever First Division title. What’s more, they did it with a record points total at the time.

Madeley made his debut in January 1964. From 1966, he became a regular. More often than not he played in defence typically at full-back. In 1968, Leeds reached the League Cup final where they beat Arsenal. Madeley wore number nine and played up front that day.

Later that year they won the Fairs Cup, the forerunner to the UEFA Cup which morphed into the Europa League. Madeley wore number eight in both legs against Ferencvaros. In 1971, they repeated the feat against a Juventus side including Fabio Capello, Helmut Haller and Roberto Bettega. A goal down at half-time in the away first leg, Madeley scored a crucial away goal soon after the break. He wore number eleven for both those legs.

Leeds were runners-up in the First Division five times under Revie, each time to a different club. They were runners-up in the FA Cup three times too, although Madeley only played in two of those games. In the defeat against Chelsea in 1970, he wore the number two and in 1973, he wore number five in the infamous defeat to Second Division Sunderland.

He was able to celebrate success once in the FA Cup when they beat Arsenal in 1972. Madeley this time wore number three.

That victory put them into the Cup Winners’ Cup where they reached the final, only to lose to Gianni Rivera’s Milan. This time, Madeley was back in the number five shirt.

Five years after this first title, Revie guided Leeds back to the top of the League in 1974 where they were comfortably fourteen points ahead of the third-placed Derby. Derby had been managed for most of the season by Brian Clough. Revie then left to take over the England job and Clough moved in at Elland Road, albeit only for forty-four days.

Jimmy Armfield came in as manager after Clough’s swift exit and guided them to the European Cup Final in 1975. But once again they ended up as bridesmaids as Bayern Munich won 2-0. Madeley was at centre-back for this match which was marred by riots.

Leeds fans felt they were being cheated by a referee who disallowed a couple of goals. One of them after Bayern skipper, Franz Beckenbauer, suggested he consult his linesman. As a result of the violence, Leeds were banned for four years, reduced to two on appeal.

Armfield clearly had great respect for Madeley. He later revealed when he asked the player how much he wanted in his new contract, Madeley responded he wasn’t bothered he just wanted to play for Leeds. So he signed a blank contract leaving the manager to fill in the rest.

Not many like him around anymore.


He only earned a total of twenty-four caps for his country. Alf Ramsey picked him as a replacement for his Leeds colleague, Paul Reaney, for the 1970 Mexico World Cup. But Madeley declined claiming Leeds quest for a treble that season had left him drained.

The following year Ramsey, unbowed by the rejection, selected him for the British Home Championship match in Belfast, where he lined up alongside club colleagues such as Terry Cooper and Allan Clarke.

He played in several European Championship qualifiers and even the quarter-final matches against West Germany.

He was right-back in the fateful Poland game at Wembley in October 1973. When Revie took over as England manager, he had no hesitation in selecting Madeley for his first game in charge against Czechoslovakia in October 1974.

His final game for his country came at Wembley when Johann Cruyff’s Netherlands arrived for a pre-1978 World Cup friendly. He wore number six that night and played in midfield.

Playing against Cruyff seemed pertinent as Madeley had received plaudits for his marking of the Dutch master in the European Cup semi-final back in 1975.


Between 1967 and 1979, he only missed a handful of games each season. His final game for the club came in 1980. He retired from the game to open a sports shop.

Ask anyone who was around in those days about that Leeds team and they will rattle off the names of Giles, Bremner, Charlton, Clarke and Gray. But those who really know will always mention Madeley.

In some ways, he was his own worst enemy. As he could play anywhere, it negated a reason to provide reliable back up in any given position.

Johnny Giles called him “seven top-class players in one,” and his manager, Revie, named him “the Rolls Royce of footballers.”

“Seeing Paul eat up the turf with his long, elegant strides is like watching a Rolls slip into overdrive and glide gently away.”

Madeley was deceptively quick. He had been a very good runner at schoolboy level.

He was voted Leeds United Player of the Year in 1975-76, and was in the PFA Team of the Year in 1973-74, 1974-75 and 1975-76.

In total, his career spanned eighteen years and he appeared 727 for his one and only club.


In 1992, Madeley had a benign brain tumour removed and in 2002, he survived a heart attack. Within a year, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

Madeley passed away on 23 July 2018, aged 73.

The Madeley family statement read;

“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 ‘Rolls 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 his loss.”

Tributes poured in from the football world for a man no one had a bad word to say about.


England caps: 24

First Division Winners: 1968-69, 1973-74

First Division Runners-up: 1965-66, 1969-70, 1970-71, 1971-72

Second Division Winners: 1963-64

FA Cup Winners: 1971-72

FA Cup Runners-up: 1969-70. 1972-73

League Cup Winners: 1967-68

FA Charity Shield Winners: 1969

European Cup Runners-up: 1974-75

Cup Winners’ Cup Runners-up: 1972-73

Fairs Cup Winners: 1967-68, 1970-71.