Leeds United deserve credit for re-signing Gaetano Berardi, according to Noel Whelan.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, the former Leeds striker and boyhood Whites fan said the defender is a “character that everyone thrives off”.

Leeds announced on Friday that the 32-year-old has signed a new one-year contract with the club as he continues to recover from an ACL injury.

His original contract with the Yorkshire giants expired while football was postponed for coronavirus.

Berardi then signed a short-term extension to help Leeds secure a return to the Premier League before suffering his injury against Derby County in their penultimate game.

Asked by Football Insider whether he thinks the new contract is a reward for his off the field behaviour, Whelan said: “Yes, absolutely and the servant that he’s been to the football club since he’s been there.

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“He’s always been the professional, he’s always been reliable when he’s been called upon.

“Yes, he’s had sending offs but you never want to take that aggression out of somebody’s game and play because that’s what people adore about him, that full commitment.

“It was sorry to see that he was having that great game and then he gets that injury but he is very big part of that promotion push.

“It’s the right thing to do, to reward him with a year deal after that horrific injury for his commitment to the club and what he brings to that group of players – experience and he seems like a character that everyone thrives off.”

Berardi, who is Leeds’ longest-serving player, said after signing his new deal: “It’s a good feeling for me and I’m happy about this and would like to say thank you to the club for this.”

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