Sunday Mirror

Radriz­zani’s a phe­nom­e­nal owner... the sky’s the limit for Leeds

JER­MAINE BECKFORD EX­CLU­SIVE

- By ROSS HEP­PEN­STALL Sports · Soccer · Soccer Business · Leeds United A.F.C. · Leeds · Leicester City F.C. · Everton F.C. · Everton · Marcelo Bielsa · Josep Guardiola · Mauricio Pochettino · Aston Villa Football Club · Aston, West Midlands · England · England national football team

JER­MAINE BECKFORD has hailed “phe­nom­e­nal” Leeds owner An­drea Radriz­zani for trans­form­ing the club from Cham­pi­onship no-hop­ers to sur­prise Euro­pean chal­lengers.

Bielsa’s men host fel­low high-fliers Leicester to­mor­row night aim­ing for a vic­tory that would lift them above the Foxes and back up towards the top four.

While head coach Bielsa has earned god-like sta­tus among Leeds fol­low­ers, Beckford reck­ons Radriz­zani’s over­haul of the club from top to bot­tom has been equally cru­cial to the Whites’ re­nais­sance.

The Ital­ian me­dia rights en­trepreneur has proved hugely pop­u­lar with the club’s fan­base – in stark con­trast to a suc­ces­sion of pre­vi­ous own­ers in­clud­ing Ken Bates, GFH Cap­i­tal and Mas­simo Cellino – and in­vested around £100mil­lion in new play­ers dur­ing the sum­mer.

Beckford, who scored 85 goals in 152 ap­pear­ances for the York­shire gi­ants be­fore spells at Ever­ton and Leicester, said: “Radriz­zani is prov­ing a phe­nom­e­nal owner for Leeds United.

“I’m there on a reg­u­lar ba­sis and you can see his pas­sion for the club on a match­day or when­ever he’s talk­ing about the club dur­ing in­ter­views in the me­dia.

“He’s been bril­liant and ex­actly what we’ve needed, es­pe­cially af­ter the last cou­ple of own­ers.

“With the sign­ings that have been made since Leeds got pro­moted, Radriz­zani has proved he’s will­ing to dig deep into his pock­ets and show the re­quired am­bi­tion for a club of this stature.

“Radriz­zani and his team, led by Vic­tor Orta, per­formed an ab­so­lute mas­ter­stroke in bring­ing Marcelo Bielsa to the club in the sum­mer of 2018.

“This is a guy who has been lauded by Pep Guardi­ola and Mauri­cio Pochettino as one of the best man­agers in the world.

“Bielsa has com­pletely changed the en­tire cul­ture of the club but he’s been con­sis­tently backed by Radriz­zani and to­gether they have got Leeds United back in the Premier League. It’s the per­fect match, on and off the field, and it’s fan­tas­tic to see the club thriv­ing in the big time again.

“Who knows how far they can go this sea­son? The sky’s the limit but they can go as far they want – def­i­nitely the top half of the ta­ble. Their work- rate is in­cred­i­ble but take noth­ing away from the qual­ity of their foot­ball ei­ther.”

Bec Beckford ( left) also backed in in- form striker Pa­trick B Bam­ford to con­tinue hit­ting the back of the net fol­low­ing his blis­ter­ing start to the sea­son.

Bam­ford’s hat- trick in Leeds’ 3-0 Premier League win at As­ton Villa took him to six goals in as many ap­pear­ances, prompt­ing talk of an Eng­land call-up.

Beckford also re­vealed he has given Bam­ford tips on fin­ish­ing and po­si­tional play.

He added: “Towards the end of last sea­son, Leeds played Black­burn away and I spoke to Pa­trick af­ter the game.

“I said I felt he could be a bit more selfish in terms of where he fin­ishes his runs, but he’s do­ing that now and is reap­ing the ben­e­fits.

“Scor­ing goals for Leeds United was the high­light of my ca­reer and I re­main a huge fan of the club.

“I’m de­lighted Bam­ford is prov­ing his worth as Bielsa’s main striker in the Premier League, as I al­ways be­lieved he would.”

 ??  ?? DIG­GING DEEP An­drea Radriz­zani has bankrolled
Leeds ‘ rise
DIG­GING DEEP An­drea Radriz­zani has bankrolled Leeds ‘ rise

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