Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Peter Lorimer - Player Profile

Below is my player profile of Leeds United and Scotland legend, Peter Lorimer. It was published in the latest Scotzine fanzine which can be bought for just £1.00 here.

 Legends of Football - Peter Lorimer

I never missed a Scotland game through choice and I’m pleased that I didn’t. I wanted every cap that was offered to me. You never get that time back and it’s always dangerous to assume that you’ll be asked twice if you say no once.
Lorimer in Scotland colours

Those are the words of former Leeds United and Scotland winger, Peter Lorimer, taken from his column for the Yorkshire Evening Post published as recent as February. It is an attitude that current Scotland forward Steven Fletcher appears to be lacking after he turned down Craig Levein’s call-up for the Carling Nations fixture against Northern Ireland last month. Ultimately, Fletcher would not have even been able toturn down the chance to play for his country in the 1970s as he would not have been good enough to get into that talented squad in which Lorimer was an integral part of.

Lorimer was born in Dundee, 1946, and signed his first football contract in 1962 with Leeds United at the age of just fifteen, making his first team debut later that year. He would go on to make 676 appearances in two spells for United, scoring 238 goals which is all the more impressive considering he featured predominately on the right wing.

Of course, it could have been a completely different story. With their son attracting the attention of numerous club scouts from anearly age, Lorimer’s parents were allegedly offered a £5,000 bung from Manchester United scouts to sign schoolboy forms with the club. The Red Devils’ offer was accepted by the working-class parents, understandably so, considering the immense value of £5,000 just short of fifty years ago. It later emerged that The Reds’ manager Sir Matt Busby was not impressed with his scouts’ unauthorised actions as he informed them he had already ‘promised’ Lorimer to Leeds boss, Don Revie. When approached by Leeds soon after, Lorimer’s parents returned the £5,000 to Manchester United and their son would soon move south of the border to join the Yorkshire club.

Lorimer joined Leeds at a time when the club had just narrowly avoided relegation to the English Third Division and they were struggling financially. However, under Revie’s guidance the Elland Road side would achieve promotion to the top tier after just three years in charge. Indeed, Lorimer would play an integral role in Revie’s ‘glory years’ at Leeds United where the club won the old First Division (1968/9 & 1973/4), League Cup (1968), the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (1968 & 1971) and the FA Cup (1972). Despite all of Lorimer’s medal collecting, he could have had so much more. During the period, Leeds finished second in the league five times, lost in the FA Cup final three times, finished runners up in the Fairs Cup once and also fell to AC Milan in the European Cup Winners Cup in 1973.

It was also during this spell that Lorimer became a Scotland regular, making twenty-one appearances and scoring four goals in the process. He will arguably be best known in a Scotland shirt for his star performance in the admirable goalless draw against Brazil in the first round of the 1974 World Cup. He had numerous efforts on goal but was thwarted each time by goalkeeper Emerson Leao. The most eye-catching moment of thematch from Lorimer being a freekick forty yards from goal which he, after a Roberto Carlos-esq run up, blasted the ball at goal with Leao just managing to tip over for a corner. It was one these fiercely struck shots that would give Lorimer nicknames such as “hotshot” and “lash”. Sadly, Scotland failed to qualify for the next round of the World Cup on goal difference and the nation would regret the chance missed by Lorimer and his team-mates, arguably the best talent this country has ever seen, with greats like Billy Bremner,
Kenny Dalgish and Jimmy Johnstone, who remarkably failed to even come off the bench once at the tournament.

Lorimer left the rapidly declining Leeds in 1979 and decided to travel afar to ply his trade at Toronto Blizzard, York City, Vancouver Whitecaps and University College Dublin over the next four years. His spell in Canada at the Whitecaps was probably the most successful period away from Leeds, where the now ageing Scot, would score 23 goals in 87 games.

37-year-old Lorimer rejoined Leeds in 1983 who were now occupying a spot in the Second
Division and he spent three final seasons at the club under the stewardship of former team-mate Eddie Gray. Lorimer broke the club’s top goalscorer record during this second spell at the Yorkshire club and would in total score a total of 17 goals before he retired just immediately prior to his 40th birthday.

Lorimer has kept himself involved in the game as a director at Leeds United, a pundit for BBC Radio Leeds and as mentioned previously, a columnist for the Yorkshire Evening Post. Lorimer also owns a pub in Leeds, situated just a thirty minute walk away from Elland Road, so if you are in town for a Leeds United match be sure to wet your appetite for the football at Lorimer’s Commerical Inn.

By Will Lyon

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