Northern Ireland boss adds voice to chorus of support and praise for Leeds United's Stuart Dallas

Northern Ireland boss Ian Baraclough has added his voice to the chorus of support and praise for Leeds United's Stuart Dallas, who recently spoke openly of his grief having lost a close friend.

Friday, 5th November 2021, 11:36 am
FULL SUPPORT - Ian Baraclough hopes Stuart Dallas sees people around him in the Northern Ireland set-up who are there to support him during a difficult time for the Leeds United player. Pic: Getty

Dallas was isolating in a hotel room having contracted Covid-19 during the September international break when the tragedy occured and according to Baraclough the Whites player was unable to attend the funeral.

Speaking candidly in an interview with BBC Leeds Dallas revealed how difficult a period it has been.

"In football, when something like that happens, you don’t get time to grieve,” he said.

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“It was tough, I’m not going to lie, it was really hard. These things make or break you. Thankfully I’ve got a good family, my wife and kids around me, good teammates, and a good club to help me through these challenging times. I appreciate the love and support I’ve had from everyone about the club.

“At times like this, you realise how special the people inside the club and certainly the fans outside it are.”

Whites head coach Marcelo Bielsa lauded the player's strength of character in the wake of the tragedy.

“He is a player that is very strong mentally and he has fought so that aspects in his personal life could be overcome through willingness and mental fortitude which are the most dominant traits of his personality and that have allowed him to grow in football," he said.

Leeds fans then sang the Ulsterman's name at full-time last Sunday at Carrow Road, a gesture he deeply appreciated, and now his national team boss has added his praise.

"I think a lot of people look at footballers and think they are immune to dark times," said Baraclough.

"They are human beings like everybody else and we all have to deal with things in our own way. With Stuart, I was pleased he felt he could talk about it and speak about it and make it quite open.

"Having Covid, losing a best friend, not being able to go to his funeral - hopefully he sees that we were there for him and there are good people around him that helped him through that time.

"For him to be able to talk about it as well is so, so important. Mental health, it's something we are still not fully on top of and it is so important to show people that there is someone out there who will listen and help guide them.

"It can happen to anybody, so for Stuart to come out and say that, hopefully it opens corridors for others to know that someone is there for them and to help them."

Dallas joined up with Northern Ireland again in the last international break and has been named again in Baraclough's squad for this month's World Cup qualifying games against Lithuania and Italy.