Gaetano Berardi opens up on Massimo Cellino's importance in 'saving' Leeds United and creating Whites 'base'

Gaetano Berardi has paid tribute to Massimo Cellino for his role in 'saving' Leeds United and creating a Whites 'base' before his exit.

Wednesday, 14th July 2021, 1:15 pm

Leeds were coming to the end of a ninth consecutive season outside of the country's top flight when former Cagliari Calcio owner Cellino became Whites chairman in the Spring of 2014, acquiring 75 per cent ownership of the club from GFH Capital.

Under boss David Hockaday, defender Berardi then became one of United's first signings of the Cellino era the following summer as part of a period in which Cellino went through six managers in two years at the outright helm.

Cellino eventually took complete ownership of Leeds in September 2016, three months before present day chairman Andrea Radrizzani s arrival at the club in initially purchasing a 50 per cent stake.

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PRAISE: For former Leeds United chairman Massimo Cellino, above, from Gaetano Berardi. Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images.

Radrizzani then took full control of the club the following May as Cellino's eventful three and a half years at the club came to an end.

The Italian's tenure was full of controversy including being disqualified as an owner and subsequent appeals.

United finished no higher than 13th in the Championship with Cellino in outright charge but Berardi says the former Cagliari owner played an important part in helping Leeds return to where they are now.

Cellino returned to Italy following his Whites exit but Berardi stayed put to help the Whites to promotion under Radrizzani and head coach Marcelo Bielsa as 2020 Championship champions.

Leeds had earlier gone close to sealing a play-offs place in Cellino's last season at the club through a seventh-placed finish under Garry Monk in 2016-17, with Cellino and Radrizzani as joint-owners.

Four years on, Berardi ended his spell at the club when leaving this summer but opened up on Cellino in an interview with tuttomercatoweb and said of the former president: "During his first transfer market, I and other guys arrived, they were the first moves.

"I certainly have to thank the president, but also my agent Alessandro Beltrami.

"Cellino is the president directly, he took care of many things, even at the team level.

"He has his character, everyone knows it, but I got along well with him.

"He understands football, he knows how to manage a club, a company, a group of people.

"Even after his farewell they understood the work he did, saving Leeds and giving the base and then leaving again.

"He was present daily, at the pitch.

"He has a lot of people who work for him, he has his own businesses, he delegates a lot.

"But he knows how to manage the club in a positive way, even with the boys.

"He has a direct relationship with the team, he feels the players for everything.

"Then there are moments difficult and then he takes care of it, asks if he can do something.

"There was a positive relationship."

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Thank you Laura Collins