John Giles was excused Premier League punditry duty tonight to be granted the freedom of the city of Leeds.
Alongside Liam Brady and Eamon Dunphy, Giles is part of the iconic RTÉ football panel reunited on Premier Sports this week for the station’s exclusive coverage of the midweek programme.
Giles was on duty for Burnley v Manchester City yesterday and will return for Arsenal v Brighton tomorrow. But he missed tonight’s screening of Liverpool v Everton to pick up the rare honour.
The legendary Republic of Ireland player and manager was part of Don Revie’s renowned Leeds United team of the late 60s and early 70s, honoured tonight at a function in the city.
In a period of unprecedented success for the club, the League Cup win in 1968 began a haul that included two Inter-Cities Fairs Cups, two First Division titles, the FA Cup and Charity Shield.
Previous recipients of the Leeds honour include Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, Leeds playwright Alan Bennett and cyclist Beryl Burton.
But Revie’s team is the first group to be honoured - at a ceremony led by Lord Mayor of Leeds Councillor Eileen Taylor.
Decent five a side team in here! Definitely wouldn’t make the bench. Historic, emotional and unforgettable day for @LUFC @LeedsCC_News and the city as the Revie team receive the Freedom Of Leeds. pic.twitter.com/atcE5nn05p— Tom Riordan (@tomriordan) December 4, 2019
Alongside Giles in attendance tonight were the likes of Norman Hunter, Allan Clarke, Mick Jones, Paul Reaney, Frank Gray, Terry Cooper, Peter Lorimer, Gordon McQueen, and Eddie Gray.
The late Revie was represented by his daughter Kim and grandson Aiden, while members of the late Paul Madeley’s family were also in attendance.
Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post last month, Giles welcomed the honour and said the bonds that team had will never be broken. Though he said it was ‘about time’ Revie’s achievements were marked.
“It’s unbelievable,” Giles said.
“It’s for all Don’s squad. It’s not for one or two individuals. It’s for what Don did. I have to say about time, because what Don did for this city was incredible.
“It’s a great legacy for Don that the chief of the city has acknowledged what he did at that particular time to give the freedom of the city to all that played in his team.
“I find it absolutely brilliant and I’m sure all the other lads do.”
"I was with Leeds for 12 years. I think when you're in a situation like that and you were playing in Europe and mostly behind the iron curtain. You had to stick together. It was a bit like being in the army.
"If you didn't stick together you were gone. That bond exists forever. We don't get together very often but when we do it's like we've never been apart."
Giles was awarded the freedom of Dublin in 2015.