Jody Morris, Frank Lampard’s ex-assistant, has spoken out about the scandalous’spygate’ between Derby County United and Leeds United which rocked the Championship
Jody Morris has revealed the shocking events that led to the famous ‘spygate’ scandal between Derby County and Leeds United — and why Frank Lampard was left bemused after receiving a private phone call from Marcelo Bielsa after the incident.
Lampard, his first managerial job with Derby since July 2018, brought with him his former Chelsea team-mate Morris to Pride Park as an assist.
Both had been youth coaches at Chelsea and gained their coaching badges. They felt ready to start their first job in Championship.
Nothing could have prepared Morris or Lampard for the events of January 2019.
Police were called to Derby’s training ground on Moor Farm after a man was spotted hiding in the bushes watching the team while they were preparing to face Leeds United in two days time.
Morris, speaking about the Jimmy Bullard’s podcast Off The HookSince then, he has stated that they didn’t know they had been observed until police alerted him to his presence.
“We were out on the training pitch going through actual tactical stuff,” he said.
“We were playing Leeds that night when suddenly, a police car arrived at the training ground. Two officers from the police force jumped out of a van and walked onto a pitch.
“Everyone was thinking the same thing, that ‘I hope it hasn’t got anything to do with me’ or my family or anything like that. And he’s [the policeman] just gone and said ‘I’m really sorry, but we’re getting reports that there’s someone in the bushes over there’.”
While the police went over to investigate the motivation behind the man’s attempts to get into the ground, Morris said the players and staff were unable to train.
“So all the players stopped and we had to wait until the policemen went in and we were standing out for ages,”He stated.
“We couldn’t get going because the police were worried. And all of a sudden, they come back and they’ve arrested someone in the bushes, he’s had bolt cutters and everything. We didn’t think too much of it.”
Morris told Lampard how they were stunned by the revelations that the man had been sent by Leeds United to spy for them.
“Frank rung me and went: ‘Mate, you’We are not going to believe it.” he recalled.
“Do you recognize the guy on the training ground driving the police car? They’ve taken the fella back to his car and opened the car up… and the car’s registered to Leeds United’.
“And then there was like a Leeds tracksuit in the background and he went ‘Leeds are spying on us!’ And I said ‘Surely not!’”
It quickly emerged that Bielsa had instructed his staff member to monitor Derby’s training session so he could gather as much as information for their upcoming fixture, which they went on to win 2-0 at Elland Road.
Relations were tense between the two clubs in the build-up to the match and Morris recalled the moment where Bielsa, in a phone conversation between the two managers, explained his actions — leaving Lampard feeling completely baffled.
“Later on in the evening, he gets a number ringing him and gets another shout from Derby saying Bielsa’s trying to call him,”Morris went on.
“So Frank answers the phone, and Bielsa goes: ‘Just to let you know, everything that happened at the training ground was us, Leeds United, me with my staff. I take full responsibility and if you want to talk about it to the press, I have no problem. It’s how I work, where we’re from’.
“So Frank goes: ‘Hang on a minute, you’re telling me that you’re spying on us training? Really?’
“He literally admitted it. As you can see, he doesn’t do a lot of interviews in English and I wasn’t there when it happened. It’s easy to imagine how it ended. He tried to relay the information in broken English to Frank, and he continued asking questions.”
Leeds were fined £200,000 after Bielsa admitted spying on his opponents during a bizarre presentation to the media, showing how his team set up and the preparation he puts into games.
Unlike the media’s general fascination with such a rare insight into how a manager sets up his team, Morris was unimpressed: “We then see that he did a presentation with the press and starts talking about stuff that everybody [every team] does.
“He was not trying to hide the fact that he watched videos of the other team.
“Some of the hours he claimed he spent watching the videos of the other teams, we then processed it and said there’s not enough hours in the day.”
After finishing fifth in the season, Derby made it to the Championship play-offs under Lampard. As fate would have it the two teams were matched up in the semi-finals.
Leeds showed their dominance once more with a 1-0 victory in the first leg of Pride Park. Lampard’s fans taunted Lampard with chants asking him to “stop crying” about the scandal.
However, it was the Midlands outfit that won the fourth round after making a spectacular comeback at Elland Road. They came from two goals behind to win 4-2.
Although Derby lost in the play-off final against Aston Villa, Lampard and Morris felt complete satisfaction after taking revenge on Leeds.
After finishing 10th in their inaugural season in the top flight in 2020-21’s premier league, Leeds is now in the Premier League. Morris has heaped praise upon them. “fantastic manager”Bielsa thanks for his work.
The 42-year old was puzzled by Bielsa’s bizarre way of gathering opposition analysis.
“My personal view was that, if you’re so good and he is a legend in the game, and he’s done an amazing job at Leeds, I was just thinking ‘would you need to do that?’”He stated.
“I think that’s the culture difference. I found it funny but it did interrupt our preparation and it was weird.”
Listen to Jody’s interview in its entirety on Off The Hook podcast with Jimmy Bullard here.