As a southerner born and bred, I only knew of Don Revie from what I’d been told.

He was the master of football’s dark arts and the guy who quit the England post in a moonlit flit for the Arab dollars.

Basically, all that’s wrong with the game could be laid at the feet of the manager who forged “dirty Leeds”.

This jaundiced view was reinforced by his portrayal as a bitter character jealous of Brian Clough in the Damned United book and movie.

It had never dawned on me that there might be another side to this dour figure demonised by the media.

So a new biography has opened this mind – and no doubt many others who take the trouble to discover what the fella was really like.

Written by former T&A football writer Richard Sutcliffe, ‘Revie Revered and Reviled’ illustrates the black and white opinion on the man. Loved by Leeds and those who played under him; loathed by pretty much everyone else.

Several football luminaries pop up to explode the popular myth.

Kevin Keegan says Revie came in a close second to Bill Shankly as the best manager he ever worked for.

“The people behind the (Damned United) film were trying to pretend they knew all about Don and his character,” he said. “To me, though, all they ended up doing was proving the exact opposite.”

Revie was a football nut and deep thinker of the game. In many ways, he was years ahead of his time with his views on players’ diet and pre-match preparation.

The focus on eating the right food was preached two decades before Arsene Wenger kicked out the steak and chips menu at Arsenal.

His dossiers on upcoming opponents were commonplace long before Sir Alex Ferguson began his Manchester United regime.

That’s why Paul Reaney would never have a bad game against George Best. The notes on the Irish wizard had given him an invaluable head start.

No wonder his Leeds players would run through the proverbial brick wall for him – and kick it down if necessary. It was an unswerving loyalty that reaped such rich rewards.

But this closeness with his team, engendering the feeling of “us and them” with the outside world, inevitably stirred up animosity elsewhere. The anti-Revie legend was born.

Of course there were the rituals and superstitions to feed the myth.

He had to wear the same “lucky” blue suit to every game. If Revie forgot his briefcase when leaving home for work, his wife Elsie would have to pass it out because he considered it bad luck to go back inside.

But he produced a football team that took the league by storm. The results and trophies spoke for themselves.

And yet the national praise was never unconditional. There were always those among the London-based media desperate to see Leeds trip up because of their supposed “gamesmanship”.

That lack of appreciation outside of West Yorkshire is a running theme through Sutcliffe’s book.

It would be too easy to dismiss that as a narrow-minded Leeds fan having a pop. The more you read, the more you conclude that it was indeed the case.

And it wasn’t just the newspapers. The Football Association – who coined the “dirty Leeds” catchphrase in the first place – were happy to let Revie face both barrels when he shocked everyone by taking a job in the United Arab Emirates.

What never came out, until now, was the revelation that Bobby Robson was being lined up to take over England anyway. Revie saw the signs and simply decided to jump before he got pushed.

The idea of setting the record straight came to Sutcliffe one Saturday afternoon during a chat with Eddie Gray in the Elland Road press room.

Gray, one of Revie’s most loyal lieutenants, had just read Damned United and wanted to know how it was possible to get away with merging fact and fiction and portraying it as the gospel truth.

That annoyance gnawed away and the author decided it was time to tell the whole story.

Leeds fans will lap it up. For the rest of us, it is an enlightening read that goes a long way to changing some of our prejudices now we know both sides of the tale.

Revie, Revered and Reviled, is published by Great Northern Books.