Football: Fallen English giants Leeds hire Argentinian veteran Marcelo Bielsa as coach

Marcelo Bielsa said he was "delighted" to accept the role.
Marcelo Bielsa said he was "delighted" to accept the role.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP, REUTERS) - English Championship football outfit and fallen giants Leeds said on Friday (June 15) that they have appointed the vastly experienced Marcelo Bielsa as their new head coach on a two-year deal.

"I am delighted to accept the role of head coach at Leeds United. It has always been my ambition to work in England," the Argentinian said in a statement.

"When a club with Leeds United's history made me an offer, it was impossible to turn down," added the 62-year-old, saying he was "excited" by his new challenge.

Bielsa comes in after the end-of-season sacking of Paul Heckingbottom, following the club's disappointing 13th-place finish in the second tier.

Leeds chairman Andrea Radrizzani said: "I am thrilled to welcome Marcelo and his staff to Leeds United.

"Marcelo has a wealth of experience and he will use that to create a new culture and a winning mentality at our football club."

Bielsa, a maverick former coach of Argentina and Chile, guided the Argentinians to the 2004 Olympic title and later took Spain's Athletic Bilbao to the Europa League and Spanish Cup finals in 2012.

But he walked out of a job at Italian Serie A side Lazio after just two days in 2016 having already left Marseille after the opening game of the previous season, and then last season lasted only 13 games at French Ligue 1 outfit Lille.

Leeds, three-time English champions who reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2001, have not featured in the Premier League since being relegated in 2004 and at one stage were even in the third-tier League One.

The side, who won their last top-flight title in 1992, are set to start the season with a new manager for a fifth consecutive year.

They have persistently failed even to reach the Championship play-offs and under former Italian owner Massimo Cellino became better known for the swing door policy of managerial changes and legal issues than football.

Radrizzani promised more stability when he took on the club from his fellow Italian last year but lost highly rated manager Garry Monk within days, and last season their fortunes fared little better in challenging for promotion.

He now has identified Bielsa as the man to end the Yorkshire outfit's 14-year exile from the top flight.