Club repay Gaetano Berardi’s 'side before self' attitude

17 Oct 2020 10:34 am, by YorkshireSquare

Gaetano Berardi is a rarity, a diamond in the rough of mediocrity brought in from Italy by Massimo Cellino back in 2014. Whilst Marco Silvestri, Tommaso Bianchi, Mirco Antenucci, Giuseppe Bellusci and Giuseppe Bellusci are mere footnotes, and bad ones at that, in Leeds United’s history, Gaetano Berardi will go down as a promotion winning hero. He knew now to get on the good side of Leeds United fans too, a scissor kick to a poor unsuspecting Accrington Stanley player lead to a red card in his debut. The tone set for his early Leeds United career after just eighty-nine minutes of football.

Often odds on at to be sent off, he would go on to get eight red cards, the highest in the club’s history but it all came from a good place, one could never accuse Gaetano Berardi of leaving anything out on the pitch! At a time when there where players cared little for the shirt they were wearing there was Gaetano Berardi, giving it everything. Sure, he is not the most talented player in the squad but Berardi has always showed the level of commitment that seals your place in the hearts of Leeds fans forever.

It’s a big mistake but I’ll stop making mistakes when I die. There’s a big fire in me and without it I can’t play football. If I remove this fire I just go home and find a job. That’s all I can say.

Berardi has always stood up for what is right, he shunned the sicknote seven, he told Pontus Jansson exactly what he thought of him when he disobeyed Marcelo Bielsa’s instructions to let Aston Villa score]. Side before self may have been the doctrine of Billy Bremner but he could have coined it for Gaetano Berardi. When last season restarted following restart players across the league refused to play in case it affected future transfers. Not Berra, there was nothing that could have stopped him playing Leeds United’s remaining games despite his contract being up at the end of June.

With the injury to Kalvin Phillips, Berardi stepped into central defence against Barnsley, a role he has grown into over the past could of seasons. It was not a pretty game but a vital victory that turned out to be the one that won Leeds United promotion back to the Premier League and Berardi played a huge role in it. As the crowds gathered outside Elland Road to celebrate promotion, Berardi stood in the East Stand, taking it all in, surely thinking about how far the club has come over the past six years and the part which he has played in that.

It was heart-breaking therefore to see him stretchered off the pitch against Derby, his ACL torn after a bad landing, at least nine months out. He celebrated on the pitch after the game, leg braced, on crutches. When the euphoria of becoming Champions subsided Berardi may will have reflected on his decision to play on without a contract, this season a write-off potentially with no club. A fiercely loyal player, the club have now repaid that loyalty, Berra signing a new one-year contract with the club, running until the end of the 2020-21 season.

As far as the club goes it was the right thing to do, Berardi has been an integral part of the club both on and off the pitch over the past few seasons, a cult hero with the fans. It feels like a decision that would not have been made by previous owners, but the cub is a different place now and it is great to see them step up and see our warrior right, to repay him for his heroic deeds. Berardi will undergo rehab following his operation and will continue his recovery with the medical team at Thorp Arch. Hopefully we will get to see him wear the white of Leeds United once again, this time with a Premier League badge on the arm.