'Dear Barry Douglas...' - Victor Orta pens emotional open letter as Leeds United defender joins Blackburn Rovers
Leeds United have said their first goodbye to a permanent member of the 2019/20 Championship title winning side as Barry Douglas departs for Blackburn Rovers.
The left-back moves to Ewood Park on loan for the season but with his contract up in the summer, his time at Elland Road has come to an end.
Director of football Victor Orta has penned an emotional open letter to explain the Scot's significance to Leeds in his two years at the club.
It read: "You are the first permanent member of our promotion winning side to leave us and therefore I felt I should write this open letter to express my thanks, but also to ensure the supporters know just how big your impact has been.
"You are clearly a top player and anyone who understands the game can see your quality. Unfortunately things have just not fallen for you in the way they should have done during your time at Leeds United, which can happen in football. A lot of people credit Marcelo with changing the culture of Leeds United since he arrived, which is absolutely true, but you also arrived during the summer of 2018 and I know a lot of people also believe that your arrival at the club sparked a change in the dressing room too.
"You are a positive influence. I have seen first-hand how you have taken the younger players in the squad under your wing and given them important advice and it is clear to everybody that you are very popular amongst the senior players at the club. The same can be said for the staff too, you have a close relationship with Chris and the kit staff, the medical team, Izzy and the chefs and everyone else at Thorp Arch. I also know that on the night we got promoted you took our own Digital Wilson aside to let him know that the work he does has helped to build the spirit in the dressing room, which I know meant a lot to him and his team. Our head of communications always feeds back to me when players have gone above and beyond in the community and he has constantly informed me how much you have done for people in this city. You care and you are a good person.
"Your best moment on the field in my opinion was the cross you made for Bill to equalise against Millwall in March 2019, whilst carrying a painful knee injury. We went on to win the game and it was one of the best atmospheres I have felt at Elland Road. Off the field, and on a personal note, the moment you impressed me the most was in one of my darkest moments, after the game with Derby County in the Play-Offs. The dressing room was filled with people crying and emotional, shaken and all fearing for the future – and then you burst into the room and you shouted “We keep going and we do it next year”. For some reason, as soon as you said that the room seemed to lift, and the following season we achieved our goal.
"I understand why you are leaving. You are a proper professional and you want to play and I respect that greatly. You leave us as a champion on the pitch and I hope now people understand that you are a champion off the field too. Thank you for everything Barry. I wish you, Debbie, Kaidyn and your soon to be new addition all the luck in the world for the future.
P.S You still owe me a free kick."
Douglas joined Leeds from Wolves in 2018 after helping them to a Championship title.
The 31-year-old's spell as a White was disrupted by injuries and then the form of Stuart Dallas kept him out of Marcelo Bielsa's side.
Last season he featured 15 times for Leeds and his best performance came late in the season at Ewood Park in a vital 3-1 win.
A lack of guaranteed first team football and no sign of a renewed deal have led to his departure.