Bielsa hails mental fortitude of Stuart Dallas as star reveals personal problems

Leeds United's Stuart Dallas during the Premier League match against Wolves at Elland Road

Stuart Dallas has earned the praise of Marcelo Bielsa after Leeds United’s Player of the Year lifted the lid on his personal struggles this season.

Dallas swept the board at United’s Player of the Year awards last season after a stellar campaign. However, Dallas is yet to reach anywhere near those heights this season, leaving many to question what had happened. And having been forced back into left-back to cover for the absence of Junior Firpo in recent weeks, it’s been a difficult season for the popular Ulsterman.

However, Dallas revealed in an honest interview with BBC Radio Leeds that he’s lost a close friend due to Covid 19 this season. During the grieving process, Dallas also picked up the virus himself.

“It’s been a challenging couple of months for me,” Dallas said. “I lost one of my best pals, one of my best friends, closest friends back in the last international break.

“I had Covid in among that as well, so it’s been a difficult time. It has impacted me a lot.

“Thankfully, I have a good family, my wife and kids around me, good teammates, good club to help me through these challenging times, but it’s all part and parcel of life.

“Everybody goes through these [things] and I’ve just got to crack on and get on with it.

“In football, you don’t get time to grieve. I don’t want to let anybody down.”

As a result, Dallas has received praise from plenty for coming clean on his troubles. In an era where speaking about our feelings is important, Dallas’ honesty could be seen as a pathway for others.

Now the player has also drawn praise from Bielsa.

“He’s a player that’s very strong mentally and he has fought through aspects in his personal life. This has been overcome through willingness and mental fortitude. The most dominant traits of his personality have allowed him to grow in football,” the Leeds boss said.

Bielsa confirmed earlier that Firpo, Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha would be available against Norwich.

And the Leeds boss also fully expects Dallas to continue to be available too.

“When episodes of these types happen the best interpreter of each personality is that person themselves. We respected Dallas’s decision to want to participate. We gave it a lot of value and acted in consequence,” he added.

Bielsa wary of Norwich

Leeds face a Norwich side who are bottom of the table and winless so far. They are also coming into this one off the back of a 7-0 trouncing at Chelsea.

Asked if that heavy loss will impact their plans to face Leeds, Bielsa had a firm answer.

“A team, when they lose so heavily, multiply their efforts so a similar defeat does not happen in their next game.

“All of these evaluations are not necessary though because every game in itself is difficult. That’s because everything in play [during a game] and because our reality obliges us more than ever, independent of how the opponent feels.

“Any other team will require the same analysis because it’s the Premier League and our reality at the moment.”

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