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Giles salutes 'great friend and modest footballer'

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FRIENDS: John Giles looks on as Leeds United team-mate Norman Hunter receives attention.

FRIENDS: John Giles looks on as Leeds United team-mate Norman Hunter receives attention.

FRIENDS: John Giles looks on as Leeds United team-mate Norman Hunter receives attention.

Former Ireland manager John Giles has paid a warm tribute to his long-time Leeds United team-mate Norman Hunter, labelling him an "exceptional character" after Hunter passed away at age 76.

And Giles claims that Hunter's partnership with Jack Charlton at Leeds United was one of the best in the game at the time.

"I would regard him as a very good friend. He was an exceptional character and you could depend on him with your life," Giles told Off The Ball on Newstalk.

"He was very genuine, very modest and would never talk about himself. He felt privileged to play football at the level he was at. I played with him for 12 years, and it is like being in the army together.

"In those days, you had to stick together. There is a bond from that which never dies," added Giles, admitting that the inability to mark Hunter's passing, due to restrictions on COVID-19, was hard to take.

"I think we will have something when this stuff goes away. I think the Leeds lads will get together with Norman's family, I'd have no doubt about that. We won't let this go," Giles said.

Charlton and Hunter were a force to be reckoned with, Giles claimed.

"They would have played together for at least 10 years. It was a terrific partnership," Giles said.

"Hunter would play off Jack, cleaning up after him and he had a great knowledge of where to be as a defender. He could tackle as well."

Giles soldiered with Hunter for a long spell in the Leeds shirt but they almost missed out as Hunter was about to leave Leeds until Don Revie arrived.

"Before Don took over in 1961, the previous manager had released Norman. So, Don went and brought him back. I don't think he ever forgot how near he was to not making it," Giles said.