Patrick Bamford insists he cannot thank Marcelo Bielsa enough after the Leeds boss stood by him through his lean spell and for calls for him to be axed in favour of Eddie Nketiah.
Bamford’s role in the Leeds side had been called into question earlier in the season after the striker went 10 matches without a goal.
However, an untimely injury sustained by main competition Nketiah saw Bamford retain his place and respond by scoring three goals in his next four.
Asked for his thoughts on Bielsa’s show of faith, Bamford responded: “I can’t thank him enough. I’ve always cried out for someone to believe in me, put their belief in me.
“He made a big statement by signing me. He then stuck by me, stood by me this year. But I felt I did well when there was stick, I was still offering something else. He understands that, teammates understand that. I cannot be more grateful.”
Bamford continued: “Every footballer has a patch of bad form. I was working hard come through other side. I knew I just had to stick with it and always give your all, even though I was without goals. I just concentrated on that and I never doubted my own ability.
“Every footballer has ups and downs. It moulds you. You have to get a tough skin and learn to deal with things. Everyone has a strong belief; you need it to make it this far in the game.”
A report on Sunday claimed Arsenal have no plans to recall Nketiah from his spell at Leeds in January, despite his failure to start a single Championship match this season.
And Bamford admits the presence of the England Under-21 star has helped keep him focused and helped to drive him forwards.
“It’s always good to have competition, in all positions. It does push you on.
“I know Eddie’s there if I’m not doing my job and sometimes he’s saved my skin this year when I’ve missed chances. “He’s had a great impact on us and always makes an impression when he comes on. If things aren’t going well he’s nice to bring on.”
Bamford on winding up opposition fans
Bamford has been something of a wind-up merchant towards opposition fans in recent matches, but the striker insists he must be doing something right for them to call him out for abuse.
“They give me grief in the last few and if they give it they have to take it,” Bamford said.
“Away fans booing you you’re doing something right. I don’t see myself as a nasty, horrible guy.
“When you go through a drought there’s other things you can bring. I try to help the team by roughing the opposition up or just doing different things.”
Bielsa, meanwhile, offered a coy response when asked if Leeds were better equipped than last season to earn promotion after Leeds opened up an eight-point advantage over third-placed Fulham this weekend.