Leighton James, Former Wales and Burnley Winger, Dies at 71

Legendary Welsh winger Leighton James, known for his pace and trickery, has passed away at 71. A key figure in Swansea's promotion, he earned 54 caps for Wales and is remembered as one of Britain's finest wingers.

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Leighton James, Former Wales and Burnley Winger, Dies at 71

Leighton James, Former Wales and Burnley Winger, Dies at 71

Leighton James, the former Wales, Burnley, and Swansea winger, has died at the age of 71. James had a successful 19-year senior career, playing over 600 Football League games and earning 54 caps for Wales, scoring 10 international goals. He was a gifted player known for his pace and trickery, and was a key figure in Swansea's promotion to the top flight in 1981.

James made his Burnley debut in 1970 and was a fan favorite for his exceptional skills. He later joined Derby County for a then club-record fee of £310,000 before stints at QPR, Swansea City, Sunderland, Bury, and Newport County. James returned to Burnley for two more spells, making a total of 399 appearances and scoring 81 goals for the Clarets.

For Wales, James scored a famous penalty against England in 1977, which was Wales's only ever victory over their neighbors at Wembley. He was part of the Welsh national team for over a decade and is remembered as one of their finest wingers. Former Wales manager John Toshack described James as "one of the very best wingers British football has ever seen" and said Wales were "lucky" to have him.

Why this matters: Leighton James was a Welsh football legend who made a significant impact for both club and country. His death marks the loss of one of Britain's most talented and influential wingers, whose skills and memorable performances left a lasting mark on the sport.

After his playing career, James held various coaching positions in south Wales and worked in the media as a columnist and pundit. In his later years, he even served as a lollipop man for a school in Swansea. Both Burnley and Swansea have paid tribute to James, with the clubs set to wear black armbands in their respective matches as a mark of respect for the genuine legend. Wales forward Ian Walsh praised James' technical abilities and style of play, saying "he had skills that have gone out of the game."

Key Takeaways

  • Leighton James, former Wales, Burnley, and Swansea winger, dies at 71.
  • James had a successful 19-year career, playing over 600 Football League games.
  • He scored a famous penalty against England in 1977, Wales's only Wembley win.
  • James was praised as one of Britain's most talented and influential wingers.
  • Burnley and Swansea have paid tribute to the football legend.