Gaetano Berardi‘s “beautiful journey” at Leeds United comes to an end
21 May 2021 08:08 am, by YorkshireSquare
It was announced by the club this morning that along with Pablo Hernandez, legend Gaetano Berardi will be leaving the club this summer. Gaetano Berardi was 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. 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.
Berardi always stood up for what was 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 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. It was not a pretty game but it was a vital victory that won Leeds United promotion back to the Premier League and Berardi played a huge role in it.
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 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 repaid that loyalty, Berra signing a new one-year contract with the club until the end of this season. His reward came against Southampton when he made his Premier League debut and I’m not afraid to say I shed a little tear.
But now it is the ‘end of the beautiful journey’ and Berardi departs with an open letter to the fans. If there is one player who has encompassed the spirit of this team, what ‘side before self’ really means it is Gaetano Berardi and for that he will have a place in our hearts forever.