Leeds United's top 30 players of all time - Number 2

Elland Road Revie Stand

The runner-up in the countdown is arguably the greatest player ever to have mastered two completely different positions.

The fact that most of John Charles' time at Leeds United was spent in the Second Division and yet he is still considered one of the greatest footballers the game has ever known is testament to how special a player the Welshman really was.

The Gentle Giant as he was known, began life at Elland Road as a centre-half. He quickly established himself as one of the best defenders the game had due to the way he married his technical ability with his physical presence.

At the start of the 1952-53 season however, Charles was given a new role in the team as he was asked to play up front. He adapted just as quickly as he had done when he broke into the first-team as a defender in 1949, as he proceeded to score 108 league goals over the next four seasons, including 42 in just 39 games in the 1953-54 campaign.

In 1955, the Wales international was given the captaincy and inspired the Whites to promotion to the top flight. And while the step-up may have fazed some, Charles continued where he had left off in the second tier, scoring 38 in 40 appearances.

His form brought him to the attention of Italian giants Juventus who paid a British record fee for him in 1957. After five successful years in Turin - which included three Scudettos - he returned to Leeds, who were now being managed by Don Revie.

Sadly, his return was not given a chance to hit anywhere near the same heights that his first spell had hit and he swiftly returned to Italy to join Roma.

Only Peter Lorimer has scored more times for the club than John Charles, which is simply incredible given that the latter was a master of two positions and was not surrounded by star names in the same way that the Scotsman was several years later.

His talent and ability arguably makes him the greatest player ever to have been world-class in two different roles in a team. And without him, the success that was to follow over a decade after his first departure may never have happened as it was Charles that put the club on the map and laid the foundations for what was to come. 

Countdown so far: Number 30, Number 29, Number 28, Number 27, Number 26, Number 25, Number 24, Number 23, Number 22, Number 21, Number 20, Number 19, Number 18, Number 17, Number 16, Number 15, Number 14, Number 13, Number 12, Number 11, Number 10, Number 9, Number 8, Number 7, Number 6, Number 5, Number 4, Number 3

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