The football world pays tribute to Bobby Collins
Monday, 13th Jan 2014 22:10 by Tim Whelan
Leeds United legend Bobby Collins passed away this afternoon at the age of 82. Collins also played for Celtic, Everton, Bury, Greenock Morton and Oldham Athletic.
A statement on the official site broke the news that he died at approximately 3.30pm today after a battle with illness. Bobby's friend and former team-mate, Eddie Gray said: "In my opinion Bobby Collins was probably the most influential player in the history of Leeds United. He will be sadly missed by all who knew him and played with him."
When Collins joined Leeds in 1962 for a fee of £25,000, most people thought his career was winding down. The then 31 year-old was moving from first division Everton to a team struggling against relegation to the third, yet over the next few years his captaincy was to inspire Revie’s team as we won promotion and then established ourselves as a force at the top level of the game.
Many Leeds fans have noted the similarities with Gordon Strachan’s arrival at Leeds in 1989, another diminutive scot in his early thirties who dropped a division to join Leeds, but who captained us to promotion and to challenge for major honours. But unlike Strachan, Collins unfortunately didn’t win a trophy at Leeds, as we finished runners up in both League and FA Cup in 1965.
The following season he suffered a broken leg in one of our first ever European ties against Torino, the victim of an appalling tackle. He did well to come back and make seven appearances in 1966/7, but at 35 it was going to be hard for him to get back to his former level of fitness after missing so many games, and he was granted a free transfer to Bury.
His playing career came too early for me to see him in action, but I did briefly meet him many years later outside the West Stand at Elland Road before a game some time in the 1990s. I was actually aiming for John Charles’ autograph and at first I didn’t notice Collins in the crowd surrounding the gentle giant. But when I did approach Collins he gladly gave his autograph and thanked me for asking for it.
What an absolute gentleman. We will always be grateful for the part he played in our rise to success in the early part of the Revie years, and our thoughts are with Bobby's family and friends at this time.
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