Gordon McQueen (1952 – 2023) Kilbirnie-born footballer who played for Leeds Utd & Manchester Utd. Inducted into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame in 2012.

On the 26th of June, legendary Scottish defender Gordon McQueen was born in Kilbirnie in 1952. Throughout his 15 year career he played for St Mirren, Leeds Utd & Manchester Utd while also earning 30 caps for Scotland and representing his country at the 1978 and 1982 World Cup finals before retiring at the age of 33 in 1985. 

Gordon’s dad, Tom, played for a variety of clubs in the senior and junior ranks. He had spells at Berwick Rangers and stayed longest at Accrington Stanley and also helped his local team Kilbirnie Ladeside to win the 1952 Scottish Junior Cup. 

As a schoolboy Gordon played as a goalkeeper but soon switched to central defence. He went on to sign for St Mirren at the age of 18 in 1970. After two successful seasons at the club, Leeds Utd offered £30,000 and he was off to Elland Road. Gordon recalls the experience: 

“At St Mirren, which I loved, Jock Stein [Celtic], Willie Ormond [St Johnstone], Bill Nicholson [Tottenham] and Bobby Robson [Ipswich Town] all wanted to sign me but I went with Leeds. Their scout, when I came up to Glasgow to meet him, gave me the £5 fare back to Kilbirnie which was a fortune and that swung it.” 

It took McQueen a season to break through at Leeds but in the ’72-’73 season Leeds won the League Championship, with a run of 29 matches without a defeat from the start of the season with McQueen playing a key part alongside Norman Hunter as Leeds first-choice centre back pairing. At the end of that season McQueen was called up to the Scotland squad and made his international debut versus Belgium. 

Gordon McQueen playing for Manchester United against Feyenoord in 1983
Gordon playing for Manchester United against Feyenoord in 1983

McQueen had made 140 appearances for Leeds before, in February 1978, Gordon moved to Manchester Utd, fierce rivals of Leeds Utd, for £495,000. McQueen had made 140 appearances for Leeds and said that “99% of players want to play for Manchester United and the rest are liars.” He spent 7 years at the club, winning the 1983 F.A Cup and playing 183 games for the club.  

“I don’t like going back to Leeds now. I loved the city when I played there but then everything went sour.” He’s talking about his move across the Pennines to hated rivals Manchester United. “When you see your umpteenth lad, not even born at the time, in a T-shirt reading Red scum – Cantona, Ferdinand, Jordan, McQueen, you think, ‘Ach, that’s enough.’” 

He was inducted into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame in 2012.

Since his retirement he served as a pundit for Sky Sports and as a scout for Middlesbrough. He also recovered from cancer of the larynx and a stroke.

In January 2021, he was diagnosed with vascular dementia.

Gordon died on the 15th of June, 2023.

Further Reading

Gordon McQueen at the Scottish Football Hall of Fame