PAUL HECKINGBOTTOM admitted he was “honoured” to be the new head coach of Leeds United following a “whirlwind” week which saw him switch from Championship rivals Barnsley.
Heckingbottom, facing the media in his new position for the first time at Thorp Arch on Thursday afternoon, was appointed as Thomas Christiansen’s successor on Tuesday morning with the former Reds boss joining the Whites on an 18-month contract.
The 40-year-old will now take charge of United for the first time in Saturday lunch-time’s Championship Yorkshire derby at Sheffield United and Heckingbottom said he had been lured to the Whites by a role that offered “big appeal.”
“It’s an honour,” said Heckingbottom. “It’s been a whirlwind few days and it’s got me really excited.
“I think today is the probably the first time it’s felt like normal. There have been lots of things going off, lots of things to deal with and do.
“Monday was a strange day. I knew before training on Monday that things were happening but as it stood I was still Barnsley manager. I carried on there as normal, nobody knew, and then things started really moving on Monday night.
“Timing’s everything as they say and I’ve been fortunate enough to capitalise, but we’ve had lots of speculation over my time at Barnsley, whether it was players or myself.
“And I said all along when people used to ask me the question, I had opportunities as a player, a coach and a head coach to go but I didn’t really want to leave. This time everything was right and I’m really pleased to be here.”
Asked how well suited he would be to the role of head coach, Heckingbottom beamed: “Big appeal. That was my title at Barnsley but we had less resources and were a smaller club. You feel responsible for everything and you want everything to be right and spot on.
“You can begin to spread yourself too thin dealing with lots of issues which here, maybe I’ll be involved in but there’ll be other people to help get the job done. It is a big appeal for me.”
Timing’s everything as they say and I’ve been fortunate enough to capitalise ... this time everything was right and I’m really pleased to be here.Leeds United boss, Paul Heckingbottom