Footballers on both sides of the Steel City divide have paid tribute to Sheffield United legend Alan Woodward who passed away earlier this week, writes James Shield.
Tony Currie admitted his “great friend” and former team mate would be “hugely missed” while Len Badger, another member of the 1971 promotion winning squad, told The Star that Woodward was “a wonderful talent” who should have gained international recognition “numerous times.”
Currie, the former England international who was voted United’s greatest ever player at the club’s 125th anniversary last year, said: “I don’t think there was a winger around at that time who was better. Woody could play and he could score goals, what a combination.
“I’m just so chuffed now that he came over for the celebrations in September. I didn’t realise at the time that it would be the last time I saw him and he’s going to be badly missed because he was top player and a top bloke.”
Woodward made over 600 league and cup appearances for United between 1964 and 1978 before joining Tulsa Roughnecks of the now defunct North American Soccer League. Born in Chapeltown 68 years ago, he remains Bramall Lane’s leading post-war goalscorer having hit the target 191 times.
Like Woodward, Badger was also a member of the United team which vied for the First Division title in 1975.
“Woody was a member of a brilliant Barnsley Boys team and could have had his pick of clubs,” he said. “But he came to us.
“We basically went all the way through together and how Woody never played for England I will never ever know. He should have been capped numerous times, without a shadow of a doubt.”
“Woody could do everything; cross, pass and score. No matter what situation he found himself in on the pitch, he was never embarrassed.”
Imre Varadi, who turned professional with United in 1978 before going on to represent rivals Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds, said: “The word ‘legend’ gets banded about a lot these days and used in a lot of cases when it shouldn’t. But, I tell you what, it was made for that guy. I used to be in awe of him back then as a young lad.”