For many Leeds fans, the first time they will have heard the name Benoît Delaval is when he went up to pick up the FIFA Fair Play Award back in September.
The man behind that goal against Aston Villa, the Leeds United fitness coach is a trusted member of Marcelo Bielsa’s staff at Elland Road and has been at the club since the summer of 2018.
Before that, he was at Lille, and in an interview with La Voix du Nord in France, Delaval explained how amazed he was at the dedication shown by the players at the club to better themselves, something he wasn’t used to on the other side of the Channel.
He said: “There’s less of a need to go find English players. You press the button and they’re there. They do what’s asked of them. Last year, I did a presentation at the training centre on recovery and, at the end, a player came up to me and said ‘Here’s my email address, can you send me your material?
“During my 14 years in France, no one has asked me for my material and I did a number of presentations on nutrition, preparation, sleep… Sometimes you get a message: ‘Tomorrow is day -3 (the most important training of the week), do you know what we’re going to do because I’d like to adapt my dinner for it…’ It’s just easier for us”.
Working for Bielsa has been a life changing experience for the Leeds fitness coach, and it’s given him a taste of what it’s like to thrive in the best conditions, with constant pressure, and it’s something he wants to continue to doing.
He explained: “I want to stay at the highest level for as long as possible. I don’t have a plan. Never did I think I would ever get here. If you want to stay in this business, you have to question yourself every day. If you start slacking off tomorrow, you’re dead”.
That seems to be the Leeds United ethos these days, especially after last year’s failed attempt at securing promotion through the playoffs, and while it hasn’t gone all that smoothly so far, they are still fighting for an automatic spot to the Premier League.
They currently are fifth, two points behind leaders West From after 11 games, as they prepared to face Birmingham on Saturday.