Leeds United today paid an emotional tribute to two supporters who died at a match in Turkey 20 years ago.
Whites fan Kevin Speight was the landlord at The Bay Horse in Farsley when he was murdered by Galatasaray fans, along with Christopher Loftus, from Burmantofts.
Mr Speight was aged just 40 when he was killed in Istanbul in the 24 hours before Leeds played in a UEFA Cup semi-final first-leg tie.
Today Leeds United skipper Kalvin Phillips, a former Wortley Boys player, remembered the two fans this morning by laying flowers at their memorial plaque at Elland Road.
A statement on the club’s website said:
“Sunday 5th April marks 20 years since two loyal Leeds United supporters, Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight, travelled to Turkey to watch their beloved team in action but tragically never returned home.
“Chris and Kevin were brutally murdered in Istanbul on the eve of our UEFA Cup semi-final fixture with Galatasaray in 2000, and their memory will never be forgotten by Leeds United fans worldwide.
“Families and friends of Chris and Kevin long campaigned for justice following the events in Istanbul, and in 2010 it was announced that Ali Umi Demir, Ali Baydar (six years, eight months), Suleyman Gokhan Guven (10 years) and Yilmaz Tutush (five years), who were all initially convicted of murdering Chris and Kevin, had lost their appeal and would return to prison to serve sentences totalling 28 years and four months.
“Kevin and Chris will never be forgotten and will always have a special place in the hearts of Leeds United fans.”
Mr Loftus’s brother Andy told the BBC: “I know it may seem a long time but it’s still very much like yesterday really. It’s still fresh in my memory.”
Social media was awash with touching tributes as fans were unable to attend due to the Covid-19 lockdown, although a handful of fans still made their way to Elland Road to lay flowers.
The official Leeds Twitter account commented: “No-one should ever go to a game and not return home.”
While the Leeds United Supporters’ Club added: “20 years ago today saw the sad passing of Chris and Kev. They are sadly missed and always in the thoughts of all Leeds fans. RIP.”
The Crown and Anchor pub in Rodley tweeted: “RIP Chris & Kev 20 years on – never forget.”