Former Valencia and Argentina star recalls 'incredible' gesture from Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa
Argentina Under 17s coach Pablo Aimar has recalled an 'incredible' gesture from Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa, who he says influenced his principles.
The 41-year-old Argentine, who began his playing career at Estudiantes de Río Cuarto and joined River Plate before reaching a Champions League final with Valencia and securing a league and cup double with Benfica, took over the national age group side in 2017.
A 52-times capped midfielder himself, Aimar was handed the first of those international appearances by Bielsa in 1999.
He says the Whites head coach is someone who leaves his mark on the players he works with.
"All [my] principles have come through some of the coaches I played for," he wrote for The Coaches' Voice.
"Marcelo Bielsa is someone who has an influence on others. He has left a great legacy to those who were coached by him, and that’s a tremendous attribute. I have a special admiration for him but, if I have to say just one thing about him, it must be the influence he has had on all those who know him and have been coached by him."
Aimar finished his playing career with the club where it all began, Estudiantes de Río Cuarto, and his last match in January 2018 was a Copa Argentina fixture against Sportivo Belgrano.
He wore the captain's armband and his brother Andrés lined up alongside him. Watching from the stands at Estadio Ciudad de Río Cuarto was Bielsa, much to Aimar's disbelief.
"I didn’t think he was going to come to my farewell match, playing for my old club Estudiantes de Río Cuarto," he said.
"When they told me he was there, I thought it was someone who looked very similar to him. It was just so incredible, but so typical of him. I didn’t get to see him afterwards, but it was something I was very proud of. In the end, these are the things you take with you."
Aimar counts Bielsa and his former Argentina Under 20 coach José Pékerman as men with who have impacted the lives of many others.
"Bielsa and Pékerman are human beings who have helped shape many people," he added.
"This is why I say they are influencers."