He made 333 appearances for the club before spells with Charlton, Barrow and his home town club on the Yorkshire coast.
Appleton was a member of the Leicester side which won the old Second Division title in 1957 and was skipper of the celebrated “Ice Kings” squad which chased the double in 1962–63. He was the Foxes’ captain in the 1963 FA Cup final defeat to Manchester United and led them to successive League Cup finals in 1964 and 1965, losing the latter to Chelsea.
He began his career as a youngster with Scarborough before joining Leicester in March 1954, a few days after his 18th birthday. He had been recommended to the manager, Norman Bullock, by Scarborough’s boss Reg Halton, a former Leicester player, and made his first team debut six months later against Manchester City.
He made just five senior appearances over the next two years as he balanced his football schedule with his national service commitments, but he saw enough first-team action to help the team lift the Second Division title. However it was with the appointment as manager of Matt Gillies in November 1958 that his career began to blossom, and he forged a formidable half-back line partnership with Frank McLintock and Ian King.
In 1966 was reunited with King at Charlton Athletic, and after a single season there he moved on to Barrow, for a two-year spell as player-manager. In 1969 he took on a similar position back home in Scarborough.
In what would be his last season as a player, he helped guide the club to victory in the FA Trophy and scored the winning goal in the semi-final. Two years later he was named the club’s permanent manager and led them to a further two FA Trophy triumphs – a record at the time.
His success with Scarborough saw Hull City appoint him in 1982 and he led the club to promotion from the Fourth Division in his first season in charge. He then almost took them to a second successive promotion, finishing fourth in the Third Division and missing out by a single goal.
Swansea City was next to come calling, but Appleton won just four of his 18 games in charge there, and was sacked after six months. He then had a two-year spell in charge of Exeter City before a brief and unsuccessful return to Hull City, following which he retired to Scarborough with his wife, Sheila.