'I travelled 400km' - Leeds United fan's Marcelo Bielsa moment goes viral as Uruguay boss shows generosity
A Leeds United supporter from Marcelo Bielsa's hometown Rosario, Argentina has told the YEP of how he travelled 400 kilometres to meet the Uruguay boss ahead of La Celeste's historic FIFA World Cup qualifying victory over Lionel Scaloni's world champions.
Rosario resident Rolando Ceresetti made the 400-kilometre journey earlier this week with the hope of meeting revered coach Bielsa for the first time at Uruguay's team hotel in Buenos Aires. Armed with a Leeds shirt, bearing Kalvin Phillips' name on the reverse, Ceresetti was greeted by the Argentine alongside other fans wearing Newell's Old Boys colours - the club whose stadium bears the 68-year-old's name.
Upon alighting the team bus, Bielsa was called over to a small gathering of dedicated fans waiting patiently at the hotel. The Uruguay boss smiled, exchanged a few words with the younger Newell's supporters and signed Ceresetti's shirt, which had in fact been gifted to him by Bielsa during his time at Leeds.
Rolando, who is a Newell's fan but vows to follow Leeds until the day he dies, sent a letter to Bielsa several years ago, explaining his admiration for the coach and personal connection to Rosario. The then-Leeds boss arranged for a Phillips shirt to be sent to Ceresetti's home address in return.
Several video clips of the pair's encounter have been shared online; the Argentine manager's generosity and Newell's supporters' dedication going viral.
Speaking to the YEP, Ceresetti said: "I am a Leeds fan thanks to Marcelo Bielsa, my relationship started when he took over at Leeds and will continue until my last day.
"I told him that I had travelled 400km from Rosario to get the signature on the shirt he had given me. He thanked me.
"I didn't tell anyone [I was going]. I was finding out by myself where Uruguay was going to stay and the idea was to wait until I could get his greeting," Rolando adds.
Following the encounter, Bielsa led Uruguay to an historic victory over the country of his birth, securing a first win against Argentina in over ten years, whilst ending a remarkable run of one defeat in their last 51 internationals and an unbeaten home record which had stretched over seven years.
"I don't know if I expected him to greet me. It was my dream! I was there to get it. It could happen that the moment didn't come, but I would have tried again.
"We shouted to him that we were from Newell's and when he saw some kids wearing Newell's shirts he came over," Ceresetti said.
Bielsa managed Newell's to the Argentine title and Copa Libertadores final in the early 1990s after representing the club as a player during the 1970s. Estadio Marcelo Bielsa is the club's 42,000-capacity home ground, named after the esteemed coach.
Uruguay moved up to second in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying on Thursday night and are on course to participate at the 2026 Finals in Mexico, Canada and the United States.