Alan Curtis | Leighton James was one of Swansea City's greatest players

21st April
Leighton James

Alan Curtis has described Leighton James as one of Swansea City’s greatest players after the former winger passed away at the age of 71.

Hailing from Gorseinon, James would write his name in Swans folklore between 1980 and 1983 as he helped John Toshack’s side complete their rise to the top-flight and challenge for the First Division title.

His goal to help clinch promotion at Preston North End in 1981 will always have a place as one of the club’s iconic strikes.

That passage of play typified James’ greatness, as he drove forward, left a defender in his wake with a drop of the shoulder, and then sent an unerring shot into the top corner of the net.

He won 54 caps for Wales and scored 10 goals, including the crucial penalty in a 1-0 win over England at Wembley in 1977.

James was also part of the Wales side that reached the last eight of the 1976 European Championships.

His playing career included stints with Burnely, Derby County, Queens Park Rangers, Sunderland, Bury and Newport County.

His coaching career saw him hold positions at a number of clubs, including Garden Village and Llanelli, while his media work as a columnist, pundit and commentator saw him exhibit the directness and honesty that had typified him as a player.

Curtis played alongside James is those great Swansea sides of the early 1980s, and place his former teammate right up with the very best to ever pull on the famous white shirt.

“Leighton was a wonderful player and certainly one of the best players I have ever played with and one of our greatest players to have played for the Swans,” said Swansea’s honorary club president.

“He was naturally two-footed, which meant he was a nightmare for defenders to play against. He could cut in from either wing and shoot with his right or left foot. 

“The famous goal he scored against Preston was a classic example of what he could do. 

“Leighton didn’t suffer fools gladly and he didn’t hold back if he had something to say, and yet he was a great teammate and would go out of his way to help anyone. 

“He came to the recent game against QPR and he loved the attention he received and deserved. 

“A few of the players he played with were there and were so grateful that we saw him that last time. He was a great player and we will all miss him greatly.”