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Stuart Dallas sends Jack Grealish strong message after Leeds star’s retirement; Marcelo Bielsa also cited

Stuart Dallas of Leeds and Man City star Jack Grealish

Stuart Dallas of Leeds and Man City star Jack Grealish

Retiring Leeds United hero Stuart Dallas has made clear he holds absolutely no grudges towards Jack Grealish following his failure to recover from the double leg break he sustained in a challenge with the Manchester City star two years ago.

The Northern Irishman announced on Wednesday that the injury he sustained following a tackle with Grealish back in April 2022 has ended his career, bringing a desperately sad close to what had otherwise been a brilliant chapter at Leeds United. Dallas moved to Elland Road back in August 2015, signed by Uwe Rosler for a fee in the region of £700,000 from Brentford and would go on to make 266 appearances over nine seasons at Elland Road.

Signed initially as a winger, Dallas became a modern-day utility player for Leeds, excelling as both a left-back, a right-back but perhaps most impressively of all, as a central midfielder.

Indeed, he became a hugely-influential and popular figure at the club, playing a leading role in their promotion to the Premier League under Marcelo Bielsa in 2020 and then in that ninth-placed finish during a hugely-impressive first season back among the elite.

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With Bielsa’s Leeds at their peak, Dallas was deservedly crowned the Leeds United Player of the Season off the back of a truly-exceptional 2020/21 campaign, in which the player scored eight goals, including a memorable double as 10-man Leeds recorded a shock 2-1 win at Manchester City.

Sadly, his career suffered a terrible blow in April 2022 when, against Pep Guardiola’s side, Dallas went for a 50/50 ball against Grealish and suffered a double leg break that included a shattered femur.

Jack Grealish sent classy message by Stuart Dallas

Those there that day will know Grealish had absolute zero intent on hurting Dallas and the clash was entirely accidental.

But having tried to recover from the injury for two years, it was sadly announced on Wednesday that Dallas would never play again, having announced his retirement from the game at the end of the season.

The devastating news, while not coming as shock, has been met with huge disappointment by all connected with Leeds; one of their best and most influential players forced into retirement at the relatively tender age of 32.

Those who know Dallas will know remember him as a great player but an even better bloke off the pitch and the man affectionately known as the Cookstown Cafu due to his marauding displays from full-back has been quick to send Grealish a touching message after his decision to retire was made public.

“No bitterness, listen it’s part of football,” Dallas said. “I probably went into that challenge so many times and I’ve just tried to intercept the ball and obviously Jack’s come across me.

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“He contacted me straightaway after that, when I was in the hospital and has been in contact since and there’s no bitterness, I think it’s just part of the game and unfortunately I came off worse and that’s it really, but no bitterness at all.

“He’s been great, honestly, that first week he contacted me a few times and you never know down the line I’ll probably share a drink with him at some stage – and we both like our drinks at the right time.”

Dallas on Bielsa and what comes next

Dallas also paid a rich tribute the Bielsa, the coach who he credits for taking his game on to the next level.

“What he’s done for me, again, on and off the pitch, the transformation and the belief, made us see the game differently, made us read the game differently, made us live our lives differently. And at the start, it was difficult at times to adjust to that but my God am I so grateful to him now for that.

“A wonderful, special man who has been pivotal to my career and words probably can’t thank him enough. Being the person he is, again, he won’t acknowledge that because he’ll think it was all down to myself. But at the end of the day it was down to him and his staff.

“He’s been in touch [since the injury]. He’s a man of few words as you’ll know but obviously when he gets going he can talk for a while when he’s trying to get his point across, but he has been in touch with me, his staff have been in touch with me and whether now when the announcement’s out, he gets in touch with me I don’t know, I haven’t even looked at my phone since because the messages will be unbelievable.

“But yeah, he was great for me. Whether or not he gets in touch with me, I’ll get in touch with him because I’ll thank him, obviously personally for what he’s done for me.”

On what comes next in his career, Dallas added: “We’ll see what lies ahead. A few things that I need to figure out, I need to take time now and this is why I’ve made the announcement, I’ve wanted to have something to focus on because it was a bit cloudy over the last few weeks and months because I haven’t known what was really going on.

“I’ll take time to sit down and think about what’s next, speak to the people closest to me. I have a few things that I’m interested in. We’ll see what the future holds.

“The club have obviously spoke to me and I need to have some discussions with them. I’m going to be around this area so staying involved in the club is a possibility and they’re keen, it’s something I need to talk to them about, but I think first and foremost, I’ve got to take time, reflect on on things and recharge the batteries.”

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