Diego Flores has suggested that several teams watched Leeds United train, but were never reported as he opened up on being at Elland Road while the Spygate saga was unfolding.

The 42-year-old was speaking to Infobae this week about his remarkable career as a coach, which, of course, included a spell as part of the Leeds backroom team under Marcelo Bielsa.

Bielsa’s time in charge will forever be fondly remembered by supporters. But there were a few incidents during his tenure which led to the Argentinian receiving criticism.

Flores Spygate
Photo by Alex Dodd – CameraSport via Getty Images

And none more so than Spygate, which came about just before Leeds played Derby off the park at Elland Road in 2019. The Rams – and Frank Lampard – were not happy with Bielsa sending someone to watch Derby train ahead of the contest.

Diego Flores responds to Spygate question

Of course, everyone turned a blind eye to every single ill in England football so they could condemn Bielsa. There was certainly more than a hint of xenophobia about the reaction.

Flores Spygate
Photo by Alex Dodd – CameraSport via Getty Images

Bielsa handled him himself brilliantly throughout the hysteria. And it turns out that he had even more class than many would have given him credit for.

Flores was asked about the incident in an interview this week. And he suggested that Leeds were not alone in monitoring other sides’ training sessions.

“Yes, I participated. I wasn’t the one who went to observe the opponent’s training, but we all lived it,” he told Infobae. “Several people from other clubs also came to see us, but we never reported them. It’s really as Marcelo explained, trying to do everything possible to win the games, although that wasn’t what made us win them.

“I think it was well handled. Some people used it, denounced it as something terrifying and it hadn’t been like that. Here in South America it is a very normal practice. It was lived, it passed and it was another life experience.”

LUN view: Bielsa owed plenty of apologies – and not just over Spygate

Spygate made Leeds fans love Bielsa even more. He held his hands up immediately. And he went on to deliver one of the most incredible press conferences any of us will have ever seen.

It gave some sections of the media an opportunity to act pretty terribly. Rather than praise Bielsa for going into such detail in his press conferences, some of the media were already demanding he spoke English. Presumably, they would have been delighted had he delivered the mundane answers most managers provide in those situations.

And some could not wait for the team to lose steam so they could act like they were right all along to predict burnout. In fairness, the squad did ultimately reach breaking point. The problem for those pundits was that it came after three-and-a-half years.

So there was glee when Spygate began and they had another reason to criticise Bielsa.

Bielsa never resorted to throwing accusations about – even though, as Flores’ comments suggest, he had every right to.

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