Footballer, coach and broadcaster

Born: June 20, 1934;

Died: August 29, 2015

FOOTBALLER Graham Leggat, who has died aged 81, was one of Scotland's finest post-war wingers. He was spotted as a ten-year-old at Woodside Primary in Aberdeen and his subsequent development with Aberdeen Schools, the youth side Torry FP and, aged 17, Banks o' Dee Juniors, had him fast-tracked into the Aberdeen team, making the first of 151 appearances, in which he scored 92 goals – an impressive strike rate for a winger.

After his first appearance against Stirling Albion in September, 1953, Leggat was son established in an Aberdeen squad, scoring the third goal in Aberdeen's legendary 6-0 Scottish Cup semi-final thrashing of Rangers in April, 1954.

That team may not be lauded to the same extent as the Alex Ferguson team of nearly 30 years later, but older Dons fans still get misty-eyed at the names of the forward line – Leggat, "Benny" Yorston, Paddy Buckley, Bobby Wishart and Jackie Hather, and it was the first team from Aberdeen to win the Scottish League, in 1954-55, before winning the League Cup, at the expense of St Mirren, in October, 1955.

Leggat scored the winner in that final, lobbing Saints' goalkeeper Lornie from fully 35 yards; some called it a fluke although lobbing keepers at Hampden was to become a Leggat speciality.

Leggat, then only seeing his team mates on match days, as he was completing his PE teacher studies at Jordanhill College, was already being spoken of as a future Scotland player. He was a member of the first Scotland Under-23 squad in 1955 and, on 14 April, 1956, he made his full Scotland debut in the biggest match of all, the Hampden clash with England.

What a debut it was too. To accommodate Leggat on the right win, Scotland switched Gordon Smith to outside left and the debutant Don marked his cap with a memorable goal, sending a dipping shot over Reg Matthews and just under the bar to raise hopes of a first home triumph over the Auld Enemy since 1937.

It was not to be, however, as Johnny Haynes, later to be a Fulham team mate of Leggat's, scored a controversial late equaliser.

A broken leg, sustained in a college game at Jordanhill, interrupted Leggat's career, but he went to the 1958 World Cup finals in Sweden, playing against Yugoslavia and Paraguay in the first two games. On returning from Sweden, he was transferred to Fulham, for a paltry £16,000 fee.

In London, he prospered in a Fulham team full of great players and characters. He formed a great right wing triangle, with one Jimmy Hill, who is on record as saying it was playing with Leggat that gave him his high regard for Scottish players. Behind them was another great, Bobby Robson, forming a wonderful midfield hub with Haynes.

That Fulham team, however, had a critical weakness at the back. For all the brilliance of goalkeeper Tony Macedo, the defence was porous.

In eight years at Craven Cottage, Leggat scored 134 goals in 277 appearances, before being surprisingly transferred to Birmingham City. This move did not work out for him and, after a bad back injury, he was freed a little over a year later.

Leggat then wound down his playing career in England with short spells at Rotherham United and non-league Bromsgrove Rovers – this whilst working as a photo-copier salesman with Rank Xerox. He then had a short spell as a coach at Aston Villa, before deciding to go West, to Canada.

He emigrated there with wife Marilyn and children Graha Junior and Karen early in 1971 to take up the position of player-coach with the newly formed Toronto Metros in the North American Soccer League, (NASL).

Leggat and the Metros parted company mid-way through 1972, but, within a week he was invited to join the public relations department of Carling O'Keefe Breweries. At the same time Leggat began his long and successful broadcasting career, doing colour commentary for CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), covering the NASL, The Olympic Games, World Cup qualifying and The World Cup Finals.

In 1986, after brief stints as vice president and general manager of the NASL's Edmonton Drillers and as executive director of Ontario Special Olympics, he was hired by The Sports Network (TSN) as a host and commentator.

For the next 15 years, he was the voice of soccer in Canada analysing the CSL, Canadian Soccer League, Pan-American Games, Canada Games, Euro Championships and The World Cup Finals. However, it was as host of Soccer Saturday and World of Soccer that Leggat became a household name.

Leggat was inducted into Canada's Soccer Hall of Fame in May, 2001. In retirement, he continued to live in his adopted home-land. Graham Junior pre-deceased his father in 2011. The director of the San Francisco Film Festival, he died from cancer.

Whilst at Fulham, Leggat scored a hat-trick in three minutes, an English record which stood until beaten at the end of last season. His strike rate, for a winger, was phenomenal - he scored over 200 senior goals, in 400 games – that would be good for an out and out striker, far less a winger. His goals include 13 hat-tricks, five with Aberdeen and eight for Fulham.

He scored eight goals in his 18 Scotland internationals – his last, like his first, a dipping shot over the England goalkeeper, Ron Springett, at Hampden. He also scored six goals in five games for the Scottish League XI. He has the same number of caps as the more-lauded Willie Waddell and Gordon Smith, but, although he was arguably the pre-eminent Scottish winger in the years between the Waddell v Smith argument and the later Henderson v Johnstone one, Leggat does not have the same profile as these other four great wingers, or a later Aberdeen teen sensation to become a big name in London – Charlie Cooke.

Some would argue, with conviction, Leggat was at least their equal. He is survived by Marilyn and Karen.