Sportsmanship is a huge part of football. Appreciation from fans, coaches, other players and top brass is garnered through acts of concern & honesty during the game.
Whether it involves picking up & helping an opponent when injured or confronting the referee when they make a wrong decision, this spirit speaks to the masses about what kind of a person the player is and not just in football.
Off the field, although rare, we have instances reported of similar gestures. Marcelo Bielsa, the former Leeds United boss has turned down a job to manage River Plate, one of the giants in the Argentine Primera Division.
And his reason for declining the offer is winning hearts all over social media.
Newell’s Old Boys, one of the oldest clubs in football who also ply their trade in the Argentine First Division, has their home stadium named after the “Madman Bielsa”.
When he was approached by the River Plate’s senior officials with an offer, he denied the job and said, “I could not manage in a league that has one of its teams whose stadium bears my name.” as reported by TyC Sports.
At 67, he could have easily chosen to go back to his native place, staying closer to his family. Instead, his faithfulness towards the club showcased his character and personality.
Newells had baptized the stadium as “Estadio Coloso Del Parque Marcelo Bielsa” in 2009 after the ex-Argentina & Chile manager had achieved legendary status for the club.
He played as a defender in their first-division team before spending a decade with them, behind the scenes. He even took over the team between 1990-1992 as the head coach.
Bielsa was dismissed by The Peacocks in February this year when they were battling relegation, after a run of 170 games in four-and-a-half-years in charge.
He oversaw one of the best periods in their history, after guiding them to the Premier League in the 2019-2020 season following a 16-year hiatus from the top tier of English football.
His high-pressing, high-intensity & entertaining brand of football was enjoyed by fans of the game. With a tactful & resourceful approach, he was well-respected across the pitch, by players & peers alike.
Pep Guardiola, the Manchester City manager, in an interview in 2017 described him as “the best coach in the world” and heaved praises on the Argentine.
Without work since Jesse Marsch’s appointment as the new Leeds United coach, Bielsa has been linked to a number of clubs.
He was about to return to La Liga with Athletic Club, who he managed between 2011-2013 but the Spanish side opted to hand the reigns to Ernesto Valverde.
Santos FC, the Brazilian behemoths were also reported to have extended an offer to him. But the project and background didn’t suit him, hence the ultimate rejection, according to South American journalist Cesar Luis Merlo via LeedsLive.
He has had many more offers on the table and almost every Leeds supporter would wish him to return to management as soon as possible. But just like on the sidelines, Marcelo Bielsa will take a careful & calculated approach to the next step in his career.
His iconic squatting on the touchline at Elland Road with an intense stare during an ongoing match has somewhat of a cult following to it. And we can’t wait to see the man in action again, as would the rest of the world.
“El Loco” is biding his time to make a move. The ball is in your court, Marcelo Bielsa.