Robin Koch recalls first encounter with head coach Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds United

Robin Koch has recalled his first encounter with Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa.

Thursday, 29th April 2021, 5:23 pm
Updated Thursday, 29th April 2021, 5:24 pm
Leeds United defender Robin Koch in action against Manchester United. Pic: Getty

The 24-year-old joined the Elland Road ranks last summer from Bundesliga outfit Freiburg in a deal worth £13m as part of the club's Premier League preparations following promotion.

Koch, though, has been restricted to just 15 appearances throughout his and the team's debut top flight campaign due to a knee injury that eventually required surgery in early December.

The German international was a late August acquisition by sporting director Victor Orta with his arrival in West Yorkshire coming just a few weeks ahead of the start of the new season and days before an international break.

Sign up to our Leeds United newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

His debut came quickly too at Anfield in a 4-3 defeat to reigning champions Liverpool alongside Pascal Struijk in the heart of defence.

Koch finally returned to Bielsa's matchday squad for the first time in late March after a fourth month absence and has been used as a substitute in the club's last two league outings.

He has been working hard behind the scenes at Thorp Arch in a bid to be ready and is now back in training full-time on a regular basis under his Argentine boss.

Koch, though, remembers well his first meeting with Bielsa, which came out on the training pitch following his move to the Whites.

"He wasn't out in the training," Koch told the official Leeds United podcast.

"We did a warm-up and some drills and I think after half an hour he was on the pitch and he came to me and said 'yeah, welcome.'

"That was the first word he said to me and the only word in that training [session].

"It was special from the beginning. Over time you get used to it. I think my first murderball was on my second day here."

Asked about how he kept mentally strong during a tough spell on the sidelines, he said: "Of course it wasn't an easy time for me. When you're new to a country and then with the lockdown it wasn't possible to get any friends or family over.

"In normal times I could've maybe gone home for one or two weeks to do some physio stuff. All that wasn't possible, so I had always had the day when I was back in training in my mind.

"It was always my target to come back as soon as possible and to work every day until I was back. It was not easy but I think it was the best way to get over the time."