Known as Mr Reliable, due to his ability to adapt to any situation asked of him, Trevor Cherry was a pivotal part of the great Leeds United team of the mid-1970s.
Having made his debut for Huddersfield Town as a teenager, Cherry wasted little time in making his mark in the Terrier’s defence and captained the side to the Second Division title in the 1969-70 season.
Despite the wishes of his father, in truth, Cherry was too good to stay at Huddersfield and with a number of top-flight clubs interested, including Tottenham and Birmingham, he jumped at an offer from Huddersfield’s rivals Leeds.
Cherry was signed by Don Revie in 1972 for £100,000 and would go on to make 476 appearances for Leeds in a 10-year spell during which he also won 27 England caps.
A tough-tackling yet classy central defender, he earned the nickname “Mr Reliable” due to his ability to adapt to any role his manager asked of him and in his first few seasons at Elland Road, he stood-in for Terry Cooper at left-back, who had broken his leg in 1972.
He would later move inside to partner Norman Hunter os one-half of one of the most formidable central defensive partnerships as Leeds became one of the best sides in Europe, though Cherry was always keen to credit Hunter for making him look a better player than he actually was.
On the losing side in the 1973 FA Cup final against Sunderland at Wembley, Cherry was famously denied by a remarkable save from goalkeeper Jimmy Montgomery which confirmed one of the biggest upsets in the history of the competition.
But just a year later Leeds United were crowned champions of England again after a record-breaking run of 29-games without defeat saw Revie’s men clinch the title for the second time in four years.
In 1975 Cherry helped the club reach the European Cup final when they were controversially beaten 2-0 by Bayern Munich – a defeat which is still blamed on some rather dubious refereeing decisions even to this day.
In 1976 he made his England debut against Wales on March 24, the first of his 27 caps for his country, though made unwanted history a year later when he became the first England player to be sent off in a friendly when he saw red against Argentina in a clash with Daniel Bertoni.
In a warm-up game just before the 1980 European Championships, Cherry captained his country for the only time in a 2-1 win against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground – becoming the first Leeds United player to captain the Three Lions.
After Leeds were relegated from the top-flight in 1982, Cherry played on for three months in the Second Division before taking up the role of player-manager with Bradford.
In 1985 he would lead the Bantams to the Third Division title, though the devastating Valley Parade fire on May 11 that year ended any celebrations.
Having hung-up his boots, Cherry remained in the dugout until he was sacked by Bradford in early 1987 and despite an offer from Sunderland, walked away from the professional game forever.
“The fire affected me, I’m sure,” he later said. “But I turned down Sunderland for other reasons, including the travelling I would have faced, plus my son’s A-levels. With hindsight, it was the best decision I ever made.”
In 2019 Trevor Cherry, alongside fellow members of that great Revie team, including his great mate Norman Hunter, was granted the Freedom of the City for all that they achieved for Leeds to mark the club’s centenary.
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