Leeds United's Gjanni Alioski reveals why he shakes tunnels, pays touching tribute to Marcelo Bielsa and city of Leeds

There is more to Gjanni Alioski than meets the eye.

By Graham Smyth
Tuesday, 14th April 2020, 10:16 am
Updated Tuesday, 14th April 2020, 10:17 am
MISCHIEF: Gjanni Alioski getting Illan Meslier in a Muay Thai clinch at Elland Road. Photo: Tony Johnson
MISCHIEF: Gjanni Alioski getting Illan Meslier in a Muay Thai clinch at Elland Road. Photo: Tony Johnson

The North Macedonian, named by a team-mate as the worst member of the Leeds United squad to be stuck with in quarantine, is the chief mischief-maker at Thorp Arch and Elland Road.

He has endeared himself to fans with his antics - ribbing former White Aapo Halme in the tunnel before a game against Barnsley, flicking the ears of team-mates, acting up for the camera and diving onto a mountain of cushions, while rehabbing an injury, in the players' communal leisure area.

The 28-year-old even disrupted live TV earlier this season when he picked up a piece of television equipment and wandered off with it, cutting off his captain Liam Cooper's interview.

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When pal Mateusz Klich was asked recently how Aloski was coping with the UK's lockdown he laughed. "I don't know. I hope he's still alive," giggled the Pole, much to the delight of the Leeds fanbase.

The club allowed the man himself to answer the question, and many more, in a Q and A session broadcast on Twitter last night.

Alisoki appears to be coping well enough.

"It's not easy but at this time everyone has everything at home and you find always something to do like Playstation, watch films, some read books - me no - mostly watch Netflix or play Playstation," he said.

LOVE: Gjanni Alioski waxed lyrical about his city, Leeds United fans and head coach Marcelo Bielsa. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

He struggled to name a team-mate whose company would be difficult to endure while quarantined and appeared baffled that his name had come up in similar conversations with other Leeds players.

"I see someone every time says me but I don't know why, why is it funny?

"With me you can do everything, play Playstation, watch Netflix, play cards, what do you want?"

Later questions told a story of their own about Alioski, prompting him to address his habit for shaking the tunnel before games, his favourite methods of irritating opposition players and his abundance of energy - a gift from God, he claims.

On the tunnel shaking, he said: "You make the other security nervous when we play away and they get angry and I like it. I enjoy it when they're angry.

"When I see my team-mates like it then it's good. I don't need to do it but I did it last year and because we won I felt I needed to do it [again].

"I like to do some mimicking [of opposition players], to look in their eyes, to laugh and smile and say something.

"[My team-mates think I'm] crazy. It's wrong. I'm a lovely guy, I think hard, I smile always. Of course I'm a little crazy but you need to be in good moments.

"I can annoy a lot of people in the team with the voices I can do. This miss me because they like it."

It was another member of the team, Klich in fact, who revealed back in November that he spends a lot of time with Alioski because they can speak German together - just one of several languages Alioski has grasped.

"Five or six languages I speak," said Alioski in last night's video.

"German, Italian, English, Albanish, Macedonish, a little Spanish and French."

If Klich is his German practice partner, Gaetano Berardi presents a chance to work on another language. The two quickly became close.

"Gaeteno Berardi, we speak Italian together," said Alioski.

"Gaetano knew guys that I played with in Switzerland before and he watched for me when I came to the club and since then we had a relationship together. He is the closest."

Amid the stock questions about favourite teams and players growing up and the 'best player at Leeds' question that without exception yields the answer 'Pablo' were moments that allowed Alioski to reveal a bit more of himself.

He has a passion for his adopted Yorkshire city that, for a man who has played and lived in the stunning Swiss lakeside city of Lugano, should be a badge of honour for Leeds.

"It's beautiful," he said.

"You can enjoy it, you can do a lot of things.

"You have really good parks to do something.

"The city centre, you have everything there. You don't need to go to London, what you need you have in Leeds."

He continued to wax lyrical on the subject of Elland Road, eschewing the usual platitudes about a great atmosphere and admitting it can be a bitter-sweet experience, wearing the famous white shirt in the famous old ground.

"To play at Elland Road it's not easy, the pressure, the fans that push you," he said.

"When you don't win it hurts you, you see the fans and you can't give them something.

"The best is when you win and you see how they celebrate. I miss this now at this moment. I hope we are back soon and with the fans together."

But he saved his most touching sentiments for the man who has guided Alioski and Leeds United to the summit of the Championship with nine games remaining.

Alioski is thankful that he has had the opportunity to grow, not only in footballing terms, under the tutelage of the Argentine head coach.

And his wish is that the work Bielsa has done at Thorp Arch will bring a glorious and deserved reward.

"I can say thank you to Leeds who brought him, to God that he's here because you learn a lot from him, not only football but as a person," he said.

"You grow up really. I see this in me. He's made me a better player.

"There has to be big respect for him.

"I wish for him and the team that the hard work pays off and he can show to everyone he is one of the best coaches in the world."

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