JOHN Wray, who for 20 years reported on Leeds United for the Telegraph & Argus, has died aged 70.

He once described his career as a journey from sub-editing a football match between Toby Jug v Squinting Cat to reporting on the European Cup final between Bayern Munich and Leeds United.

His introduction to journalism came on leaving Allerton Grange School, when he joined the Pudsey & Stanningley News as ‘sports editor’, learning his craft as he went along, delighted to indulge his passion for rugby league with covering his home-town club Bramley home and away.

Five years later, he turned down the chance to edit that paper to join the news desk at the T&A and soon took over the job as Leeds United correspondent.

It was perfect timing, as the team under Don Revie was entering a golden era and Mr Wray got to be accepted as one of the family.

He had unlimited access to players and staff, travelled on the team bus to every match, including the FA Cup final, and forged life-long friendships with players like Billy Bremner, Eddie Gray, Allan Clarke and Peter Lorimer.

Not all his relationships at the club were as close – Brian Clough referred to him as ‘the ginger-haired b*****d from Bradford’ after one report was too close to the truth for the manager’s liking.

But nothing ever dented his love of Leeds United.

In 1990 he became a partner in Gosnay’s Sports News Agency and continued to cover the club as a freelance up to the end of last season, when he had completed 50 years.

He was the consummate professional, able to craft his reports to suit the brashness of tabloids or the more considered prose of broadsheets.

Apparently effortlessly, he often did the two within minutes of each other to terrifyingly tight deadlines.

And in an age when relations between press and footballers is nowhere near as close as it was when he started, he retained the trust of players and wrote many insightful interviews during his time as editor of the Leeds United match-day programme.

Mr Wray leaves a widow Helen, daughters Liz and Louise and three grandchildren.