By Nick Ware

11th Aug, 2021 | 6:30am

Sammy Lee: Marcelo Bielsa was the instigator in Leeds United moment v West Brom

Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa’s exchange with ex-England coach Sammy Lee in May has finally been explained in an interview on The Athletic.

There was a peculiar but heartwarming moment when Leeds rounded off their 2020/21 campaign at West Brom in May.

Bielsa and then-West Brom coach Lee were seen swapping jackets at the end of the game, an unusual sight as it is usually just the players who swap jerseys.

There were suggestions that Lee had sought out the Argentine, but in an interview with The Athletic, he claims it was the other way round.

Journalist Dermot Corrigan wrote: “The Athletic can reveal that it was Bielsa who instigated the exchange and that the Leeds boss has been very complimentary of a fellow coach he first met back at the 2002 World Cup when Argentina faced England in the group stages.”

Lee told The Athletic: “I have still got the jacket and Mr Bielsa was fantastic to me. We had played them earlier on in the season, at the Hawthorns, and although they beat us 5-0 he was very warm with us afterwards.

“After the second game, he came over to me and put his arm around me, and I kid you not, he actually asked me for my jacket. I couldn’t believe it. I was stunned. I said, ‘Do you mean this?’ And I actually turned around to him and said, ‘Well, OK, but only if I can have yours’.

“The truth is it was a very humbling experience for someone as experienced as Bielsa to come over to me and be so complimentary. The way he has got that Leeds team working is phenomenal.”


Despite a storied career that has taken him down many significant roads like the 2002 World Cup, Bielsa has always maintained his impeccable manners and respect for all those who share his values in football.

Lee is a pretty well-known figure in English football following decades of service as a coach after spending most of his playing days at Liverpool, and he has coached at the Reds as well as at Everton and for England.

But while it would be fair to suggest his notoriety does not extend too far outside England, it seems Bielsa has not forgotten him and wanted to pay tribute in true El Loco style.

As if he hadn’t already endeared himself to the Whites faithful, the moment at Elland Road in May just further showed his class.

In other Leeds United news, the Whites want to sign this Portuguese attacking sensation.