"It was a crazy experience" - Gaetano Berardi reflects on emotional Leeds United farewell after Elland Road exit

Gaetano Berardi has reflected fondly on his emotional last day at Leeds United.

Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 1:25 pm
Updated Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 1:26 pm
Leeds United defender Gaetano Berardi during his final appearance for the club. Pic: Bruce Rollinson

The 32-year-old will depart Elland Road this summer after a seven-year stay in West Yorkshire.

Berardi - who joined from Sampdoria in 2014 - said a tear-soaked goodbye to the club last weekend in front of around 8,000 supporters in LS11.

Leeds have been forced to play out the Premier League campaign behind closed doors but welcomed back fans for the first time in over 14 months against West Brom on the final day.

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The Swiss full-back earned a reputation for his no nonsense approach during his time at the club and was no stranger to a red card.

Berardi, though, swiftly became a fan favourite following his arrival and cemented his place in Whites history last summer by helping United to promotion as Championship winners.

The ending of the season was bittersweet after securing Premier League status, suffering a torn ACL in the last outing of the campaign at Derby County.

Despite being out of contract, Leeds opted to hand him a 12-month extension to ensure he made a full recovery for the next stage of his career.

Berardi then made his top flight debut under head coach Marcelo Bielsa at Southampton before being handed a start against the Baggies.

"It was very emotional from early in the morning," Berardi said at the club's end of season awards last weekend.

"When I woke up I started to think about the day and it was very emotional.

"One friend told me recently, that your experience is like a difficult book to read... but when you finish it, you have good memories of this book and it was a really nice book to read."

Berardi was given a standing ovation in the 70th minute of the game at Elland Road as Bielsa afforded him a final bow.

"It was a combination," he replied over whether he was happy or sad at the occasion.

"I was thinking about the lads who give me everything every single day. The club, this man [Victor Orta], everyone at the club helped me every single day with everything.

"I faced some difficult moments and they were ready for me and to help. I was thinking about that. I couldn't talk with the guys [before the game] because I was very emotional.

"Living with these feelings and these memories is the best feeling I could have.

"It was incredible to have the fans back at the stadium. We missed this. I hope next season the guys can enjoy it more."

Asked to sum up his Whites career in five words as a final send off, Berardi smiled: "It was a crazy experience."