June 2, 2023

Marcelo Bielsa: 20 Terrific Facts About the Mad Man

Marcelo Bielsa

Marcelo Bielsa, born Marcelo Alberto Bielsa Caldera is a famous Argentine football coach who used to play as a defender for some Argentine football clubs before he chose to retire early and focus on coaching. In this post, we will take a look at 20 terrific facts about this eccentric manager. Let’s get started. 

20 Facts About Marcelo Bielsa

When was Marcelo Bielsa born?

Marcelo Bielsa was born on July 21st, 1955 in Rosario, Argentina. 

20 Terrific Marcelo Bielsa Facts

  1. He comes from a wealthy family, he grew up on his parents’ ranch and they did not want him to be a footballer, although he said otherwise over and over again.
  2. He studied at the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Rosario, where he was a self-absorbed and shy child with those around him. He made friends and toys with soft drink corks. He was enrolled in a catholic school on the recommendation of his aunt nun to his mother.
  3. He quit playing football at the age of 25 to focus on coaching.
  4. For his unique style of coaching, he is also known as “Loco Bielsa” or “Mad Man Bielsa”.
  5. In his first months coaching Athletic Bilbao, Bielsa visited the convent of the Clarisas nuns in Gernika, a town in the province. He spoke with them and asked them to pray for him and for Athletic Bilbao. He told them that he would make a gesture towards them. In the next game, he put up a sign on the roof of the bank that said “Por Clares.” The fourth official saw it and reported it to the referee, who had it removed despite protests. 
  6. One of Bielsa’s obsessions is the state of the grass on the playing and training fields, so one of the people he talked to the most in Bilbao was the gardener who was in charge of the maintenance of the fields. Bielsa argued with him and sometimes took the rake and indicated what he wanted. Two years after leaving Bilbao, Bielsa still calls the gardener periodically to see how he is doing.
  7. Bielsa lived, while he coached Athletic, in a hotel in Getxo, by the sea. Fans of the team sometimes came to leave him gifts. He once received a book, The Little Prince, written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The Argentine coach thanked him a lot; For this reason, a few days later he appeared at the home of the children who had sent him the present. There was no one, so he entered the premises on the first floor of the building and begged the employee, who failed to identify him, to deliver a letter to the family on his behalf. To be sure, he called the woman for several days. When he finally confirmed that the letter had been delivered, he sent the employee who had helped him, tickets to see Athletic.
  8. The time he found one of his players staying up late, he began to talk with him until six in the morning about the importance of offensive verticality, he never touched on another topic.
  9. The day after the Copa del Rey final loss against Barcelona, ​​Bielsa called his players “premature millionaires”, and accused them of having defrauded the fans and of laughing on the bus while thousands of fans left disappointed. “It seems inadmissible to me, boys, to mobilize a people, to disappoint a people, not to live up to the illusions that they generated, because I am truly ashamed of having disappointed the Athletic Bilbao fans. Because you can’t lose sight, guys, that we disappointed them. “
  10. In Marcelo Bielsa’s training sessions, it sometimes takes up to two hours to place items such as ropes, nets, poles, player figures, etc. 
  11. Bielsa did not attend to take the official photo when the staff released the travel suits. The Argentine only wears a tracksuit in the dugout. The last time he was seen wearing a tie was when he signed his contract with Espanyol, before coaching Argentina. At Marseille, at least the brand that personally sponsors him, Adidas, coincides with that of the club.
  12. During his stay in Chile and in various clubs, Bielsa reiterated his decision to hold training sessions behind closed doors, because “with the heart racing and without the blood reaching the brain, sometimes unwanted situations occur that must be left between the players and the coach ”. However, in Bilbao, he changed his mind. After verifying the fervor of the fans for the team and the respect he showed in his first training session, he opened the sessions to the public and the press and maintained that situation during the two years that he trained Athletic. Only in the sessions established by Uefa in European matches, where 15 open minutes are allowed, that is, by legal imperative, the custom changed. By signing for French Ligue 1 team Olympique de Marseille, he returned to his origins.
  13. The French star Zinedine Zidane is in the process of obtaining the title of coach in his country. That is why he went, together with another ex-footballer, Claude Makelele, to a training session at the Olympique de Marseille on a “study trip”. Zizou ran into Bielsa in the corridors of the club’s premises. “If you want,” he told Zidane, “you can watch the training and later, if you’re interested, I think I’m obliged to explain my method to you, but don’t think I’m doing it out of vanity.”
  14. Two decades ago, Bielsa decided not to grant personal interviews, a question that is strictly enforced, so Athletic had problems with the channels that broadcast European competitions, which have the right to interview the coaches after the matches. The club had to maneuver and make other concessions to avoid sanctions from Uefa, which could have even suspended the team.
  15. Bielsa is not only interested in football. A few weeks ago the rugby match between Toulon and Stade Toulousain, two of the greats of France, was played at the Stade Vélodrome. The Argentine went to the rostrum accompanied by French coach Philippe Saint André, who tried to explain some of the secrets of the “sport of villains played by gentlemen.”
  16. With ten games to go to the end of the French Ligue 1, Marseille lost at the Velodrome against their great rival, Paris Saint Germain (2-3). It was an unfair result. Bielsa saw his players dejected and decided to speak to them: “Don’t claim anything! Swallow the poison. There are nine matches left and if they play all those games like this, they will achieve their goal. Congratulations to all of you guys. To all”. The footballers applauded their coach.
  17. He has a cult status in Chile because his coaching took the national football team to new heights.
  18. Bielsa drives a Seat, although he doesn’t like it too much. When he arrived in Bilbao, Athletic offered him to choose any vehicle from Seat, the car company that has an agreement with the club. The coach chose a white Ibiza, one of the brand’s most modest models. If his wife or daughters came to visit, he preferred that they be the ones driving the vehicle.
  19. He took Leeds United back to the English Premier League after a 16 year absence.
  20. Marcelo Bielsa doesn’t spend too much time with one club. The three seasons with his current team Leeds United, are the longest he has spent with any club.

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