, who used to live near the great Welsh goalkeeper Jack Kelsey, won Welsh Schools caps and turned professional in May 1962.
The call to Sprake
(who was still in Leeds) was so late that the club paid for a charter aircraft to fly him to the match, and the kick-off was delayed to allow the sixteen-year-old chance to get to the ground, change and warm up.
became Wales' youngest-ever goalkeeper, at eighteen years and seven months and seventeen days, when he
played against Scotland in November 1963.
won thirty-seven Welsh caps, thirty-two of them as a Leeds player, and five at Under-Twenty-three level.
An acrobatic player, although prone to lapses in concentration, Sprake became a regular as Leeds won the Second Division Championship in 1964, and then challenged for the Football League Division One Championship title and FA Cup double the following year.
only missed one game in both competitions that season, but Leeds
ended with nothing, missing the League title on goal difference to Manchester United, and losing the FA Cup final to Liverpool, after extra-time.
The first of Sprake's notorious errors came in 1967 when Leeds
played Liverpool in a League game at Anfield.
After picking up a loose ball, Sprake
was set to throw it to the Leeds
left back Terry Cooper, only to abort his
throw when he
spotted Liverpool winger Ian Callaghan closing him down.
action backfired as the ball slipped out of his
hands behind him and ended up in the net.
At half-time, the Liverpool DJ played 'Careless Hands', a record by Des O'Connor, in reference to Sprake
's mistake, and during the second half Liverpool supporters sang the song repeatedly to Sprake.
The nickname 'Careless Hands' from then on, somewhat unfairly, appeared to stick to Sprake
However, in the same season Sprake kept a clean sheet as Leeds
beat Arsenal in the League Cup Final, and he
performed heroics behind an overworked defence as Leeds won the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, the club's first European honour, in Budapest in drawing 0-0 to win on aggregate against Ferencvaros.
In 1969, Sprake
was again a regular as Leeds
won the League championship clinching it in front of the Liverpool fans at Anfield, with Sprake
giving an impeccable performance to keep a clean sheet.
In 1970, Sprake
chased a treble of the League, the FA Cup and the European Cup, but ended up with nothing.
The League title went to Everton on the last day of the season, and Leeds
went out of the European Cup in the semi-finals to Celtic.
The FA Cup Final provided the stage for the second of Sprake's
most memorable errors.
crouched down to catch the ball as it bounced, and somehow it slipped through his
grasp and rolled into the net.
Leeds manager Don Revie dropped Sprake for the replay, but his replacement, David Harvey, was powerless to prevent Chelsea winning 2-1.
was still the first choice keeper for Leeds
in the following two seasons, but was replaced by Harvey at the tail of both, including the 1972 FA Cup Final.
watched from the sidelines as Leeds
defeated Arsenal 1-0 in 1972 with a goal from Allan Clarke and a superb performance by David Harvey at the other end.
In the same year, Sprake
publicly criticised Revie
for his treatment of him, and so his relationship with his Manager, team-mates and the Leeds supporters soured.
Sprake played over five hundred times for Leeds, keeping more than two hundred clean sheets, yet is best remembered for two errors and one argument.
A back injury brought Sprake's career to a premature end at the age of thirty, which resulted in a near fatal blood clot in his
subsequently kept his
profile low, returning to his
played sixteen League games, two FA Cup, four League Cup and two Texaco Cup games for the St Andrews' club.
Sprake has remained the only member of Revie's team who has been excluded completely by the club and those within it.
However Eddie Gray tried to build bridges after the publishing of Sprake's biography.
Currently he lives in Solihull and is a training officer with Birmingham City Council.