'The time has come' - Leeds United defender Gaetano Berardi pens emotional open letter to supporters

Leeds United defender Gaetano Berardi (middle) celebrations promotion last year. Pic: PALeeds United defender Gaetano Berardi (middle) celebrations promotion last year. Pic: PA
Leeds United defender Gaetano Berardi (middle) celebrations promotion last year. Pic: PA
Leeds United defender Gaetano Berardi has penned an emotional open letter to the club's supporters.

The 32-year-old confirmed his summer departure from Leeds after a seven-year stay in West Yorkshire.

Berardi has become renowned for his no nonsense and hard-hitting approach at Elland Road following his arrival from Sampdoria in 2014.

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The right-back turned centre-half became a promotion hero in LS11 last season, featuring 25 times under Marcelo Bielsa's watch.

Berardi, though, tore his ACL on the final day of the campaign at Derby County after promotion had already been secured last July.

Despite being out of contract, the club opted to hand him a one-year extension so he could complete his recovery at Thorp Arch.

The Swiss defender then made his Premier League debut for the Whites at Southampton in midweek but will now say a fond farewell this weekend.

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Berardi has confirmed he will exit the club at the end of his current contract and has written an open letter to supporters ahead of the final game of the season against West Bromwich Albion.

Released through club fanzine The Square Ball, he wrote:

The time has come.

I have spent the last few weeks thinking about everything I have lived while being part of the Leeds Family. I knew Leeds United when I signed for the Club but I didn’t know how big it was. When I say Leeds United, I mean the Club, the History and the massive support everyone gets.

I came here like an empty bag, without big expectations, just with a big dream. That dream grew year by year and it became an obsession; a crazy and dangerous obsession, but you are never alone in football. You share feelings and desires with the people around you and with your teammates and thanks to this I could overcome many difficulties. I could find the motivation to go ahead and the strength to keep on fighting.

Eventually that dream came true and it was amazing being a champion with all of you. This is the end of a beautiful journey where I met really good and nice people, where I made new friends and where I experienced the birth of my son, making me and my wife the happiest people in the world. How can I forget all this? That bag is not empty anymore, it is full and heavy.

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Firstly, I would like to thank Leeds United for giving me the opportunity to be part of the family and for never letting me down. I also want to thank all the people working for the club at Elland Road, everyone at Thorp Arch and especially the medical and physio staff; I will never forget when you told me, “Bera, you can come back here for treatment after the surgery, even without a contract, we’ll get you back fit again. You are one of us”. Thank you so much!

In addition, I would like to thank Marcelo and his staff, for making us great, it has been a privilege being part of your team. I am sure we will all value the experience we had with you even more in the future.

Thanks to the boys, my teammates; a group of good lads ready to work and fight every time. It is incredible what you have built in the last years, a solid group with a strong culture. You are all special.

Last but not least, thanks to all the Leeds Supporters, all the Fans. Thanks for all the support you always give to the team, for all the support I felt from you and for the nice memories I have of you. You all have one thing in common: the respect you have always showed me and I hope I deserved it.

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On my side, I can say that I will always feel the strong respect that I had for you in these years. I am leaving with a bit of sadness but with my heart full of good memories and positive feelings. This is the best gift I could get from this amazing experience.

Thank You!