'It changed my life' - Gjanni Alioski forever grateful to Leeds United with Elland Road future still undecided
Gjanni Alioski will forever be grateful to Leeds United for changing his life.
The North Macedonian arrived at Elland Road from Swiss outfit Lugano in 2017 and has turned into a Premier League regular under head coach Marcelo Bielsa.
Alioski landed in West Yorkshire as a winger but has found a home at left-back in the top flight with the Whites.
The 29-year-old has made 33 league appearances this term in his debut campaign in England's elite division and has endured highs and lows, having been subbed off against Brighton after giving a penalty away recently before seeing off Tottenham Hotspur star Gareth Bale with an assured performance.
Alioski's current deal in LS11 is due to expire this summer and there are serious doubts over his Leeds future with just three games of the season remaining.
Bielsa has made it clear he would like the utility man to stay and although he has not signed the deal on the table from the Whites, the door isn't shut on a contract extension.
Given his age and the money potentially on offer elsewhere in Europe along with guaranteed game time should United delve into the summer transfer market for a more natural left-back, Alioski may be tempted to look for a new challenge after a four-year stay.
But whatever happens this summer, his time at Elland Road has been special.
"I always tell people: Leeds United changed my life," Alioski told FIFA.com of his time with the club.
"As a football player, yes, but also as a person. I’m calmer, more experienced and more mature now, and that’s thanks to what I’ve learned here.
"I can also say that about [Marcelo] Bielsa as a coach after three years together. He’s changed my whole outlook on life and improved me so much as a player.
"I feel I’ve improved every day working with a coach like him and I’m so grateful. I know I need to enjoy it too because those three years have been so good, but they have gone so quickly.
"The Premier League has been a great experience for us so far, and I want to finish as high as possible because I really believe we’ve built a strong and very special team here."
Alioski helped North Macedonia make history late last year as his country qualified for this summer's European Championships.
It is the first time the nation have made it to a major finals and they will take on the Netherlands, Austria and Ukraine in Group C at the delayed tournament.
"It’s been amazing," Alioski added over his recent international exploits.
"The biggest thing for us, as a team and a country, was [qualifying for] the Euros. It was such a big step for North Macedonia as we had never done it before, but all the way through we really believed.
"With the team we’ve built over the past five or six years, we know we are strong, that the quality is high.
"There is good talent and a nice mix of young players and experienced guys, and we’ve become a close group over the past few years because the team hasn’t changed much in that time.
"Now we’ve achieved our dream together."