Gary Rowell column - Ex-Burnley and Sunderland winger Leighton James was a character

Leighton James
Leighton James
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OVER the course of my career, I played with quite a few team-mates who had Burnley connections and one of the best was Leighton James.

He joined us in the early 80s when he was nearer the end of his career than the start, but proved to be a great short-term signing by Alan Durban.

Leighton was fiercely patriotic about his country and one of Wales’ greatest-ever players. He wouldn’t be slow in telling you that if you needed reminding!

He was never short on confidence and didn’t have a problem telling any of his team-mates if he felt they were under-performing, which didn’t always make him Mr Popular in the dressing room.

But that didn’t bother him in the slightest.

As a crosser of the ball, he was one of the best in the business and he’d say to our forwards, that if they made the right runs, he’d find them and more often than not, he did.

By scoring over 100 goals for the various clubs during his long career, he proved he could take chances as well as make them and had a great return for a wide player.

Leighton was fiery and temperamental, and the sort of character that could start an argument in an empty room, but you knew where you stood with him, and no-one could argue about his quality as a footballer.