Leeds United v Preston North End: Bielsa praises Cooper's 'generous and humble' captain qualities
MARCELO BIELSA has hailed the influence of Liam Cooper as captain of Leeds United - applauding the defender's "generosity and humility" and drawing comparisons of such behaviour with Athletic Bilbao's Oscar de Marcos.
Cooper has kept the captain's armband since Bielsa's arrival as head coach in June with the the defender United's most experienced player having amassed 128 appearances for the Whites.
Centre-back Cooper has also started every game when fit under Bielsa but United's Argentine head coach says his captain's positive influence would be notable whatever his performance and even if the 27-year-old was not in the team.
Bielsa also highlighted the influence of January recruit Adam Forshaw who the head coach says is another to have a telling positive influence on his group as a whole.
"The captain has to be a good person," said Bielsa.
"The values our captain transmits are summed up in the fact Cooper is more interested in collective wellbeing of the team than his own wellbeing.
"He’s our captain and generous to help his team-mates, and he also has the humility to accept to be helpful.
"If you combine generosity and humility it makes him an example for all of us.
"We always have to take past examples into account, people who are better than us.
"This is not linked to if he plays better or not.
"He will still be a great captain even if he doesn’t play and you have players who are not captains, like Forshaw, who sends the same message and doesn’t need the sign to indicate which is the path to follow."
Bielsa arrived at Leeds following stints in charge of the Chile and Argentina national side as well as Athletic Bilbao, Marseille, Lazio and Lille with De Marcos at Bilbao drawing comparisons with Cooper.
Bielsa explained: "When I was in Bilbao I was head coach of [Oscar] De Marcos and I always had the intuition he was a good person.
"Not long ago I could confirm that because something he was doing privately became public.
"Once a week he goes to see people who are sick in the hospital, very sick.
"This is an example and the fact he has done this privately and the fact he did everything not to make it public makes him an even better example."