Gallery: Life and career of Leeds United’s legendary goalkeeper Gary Sprake

George Graham playing for Arsenal against Leeds  is marked by Norman Hunter as he approaches Gary Sprake in the 1968 League Cup Final at Wembley

George Graham playing for Arsenal against Leeds is marked by Norman Hunter as he approaches Gary Sprake in the 1968 League Cup Final at Wembley

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Leeds United are tonight mourning the death of their former goalkeeper Gary Sprake.

The Welshman, who also played for Birmingham City and was capped 37 times by Wales, has died at the age of 71.

Gary Sprake in 1970. The former Leeds United goalkeeper has died aged 71.

Gary Sprake in 1970. The former Leeds United goalkeeper has died aged 71.

Sprake was a prominent member of Don Revie’s revered squad at Elland Road, joining Leeds as an apprentice in 1960 before turning professional in 1962.

His appearances for the club totalled 508 and his honours included the first and second division titles, the League Cup and and Fairs Cup.

After a long spell as first choice, Sprake eventually lost his place to David Harvey and was sold to Birmingham City for £100,000 in 1973. That fee represented a world-record for a goalkeeper at the time.

Former United team-mate Eddie Gray said: “For me, he was as good as almost any goalkeeper I’ve seen. He was unbelievably talented, really he was.”

Leeds United 1965, back: L-R: Norman Hunter, Jack Charlton, Gary Sprake, Paul Reaney, Willie Bell.
Front: L-R: Johnny Giles. Jim Storrie, Alan Peacock, Don Revie, Bobby Collins, Albert Johanneson, Billy Bremner.
 (Picture copyright Yorkshire Post Newspapers Ltd)

Leeds United 1965, back: L-R: Norman Hunter, Jack Charlton, Gary Sprake, Paul Reaney, Willie Bell. Front: L-R: Johnny Giles. Jim Storrie, Alan Peacock, Don Revie, Bobby Collins, Albert Johanneson, Billy Bremner. (Picture copyright Yorkshire Post Newspapers Ltd)

Sprake’s relationship with Revie and many members of Revie’s squad soured in the years after his departure from Elland Road, owing to Sprake’s involvement into a newspaper investigation which made allegations of match-fixing against United’s legendary manager.

Leeds will hold a minute’s applause in memory of Sprake before Tuesday’s League Cup tie against Norwich City at Elland Road.

A statement from the club read: “It is with immense sadness that Leeds United learnt of the passing of former goalkeeper Gary Sprake at the age of 71.

“All the players, management, and staff at Leeds United sends its condolences and support to the Sprake family at this difficult time.”

Gary Sprake. 1970.

Gary Sprake. 1970.

Leeds United 1967-68 Leeds goalie Gary Sprake catching the ball during in their Fairs Cities Cup match Result 0-0

Leeds United 1967-68 Leeds goalie Gary Sprake catching the ball during in their Fairs Cities Cup match Result 0-0

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