In a video without words and with goals; In some lines addressed to the fans, Fernando Llorente (Pamplona, 38 years old), said goodbye to football almost mutely, after several months without a team after leaving Eibar, with which he was one step away from being promoted to the First Division. He had already announced it unofficially in an interview published in February: “You will not see me playing football,” he said, but now he has confirmed it. “From a very young age he dreamed of becoming a footballer. And who was going to tell me that he was going to be able to enjoy and live everything that football has given me, ”he points out in his farewell note. “It has been a long road in which with work, sacrifice, humility and passion I have been able to enjoy playing in great teams in which I have always proudly given the best of myself”.
Llorente began his professional career at Athletic, which he joined at the age of eleven. He lived with a family trusted by the Lezama coordinator, José Mari Amorrortu, and studied at the Askartza school in the mornings, before going to training in Lezama. He was climbing steps thanks to his physical condition and his relationship with the goal, but he was about to cut prematurely with the Bilbao club when he refused to renew the parameters imposed by the club for Bilbao Athletic . The arrival to the presidency of Fernando Lamikiz unraveled the situation; Llorente got what he wanted and a few weeks later, on January 16, 2005, he made his debut in the First Division under Ernesto Valverde, in a league match against Espanyol. Just three days later, in a Cup match against Lanzarote (6-0), he showed his qualities as a goalscorer with a hat-trick. That season he also managed to score three goals in the League.
He went through the biggest sporting crisis of the club with Athletic, with two seasons in which the team ensured its permanence in the First Division in the last days. He played little, covered by Ismael Urzaiz, and even suffered some contempt from Javier Clemente. “Away from home he still wrinkled, was scared and did not perform well,” commented the Barakaldo coach. “He was a 20-year-old boy, so we had to sign Aduriz to avoid relegation. With me he had to not be a starter, but I think what bothered him the most was that I called him Fernandito ”.
With the arrival of Joaquín Caparrós at Athletic, the team’s situation stabilized, and Llorente began to grow as a footballer. He went from scoring seven goals in the League to eleven in the Sevillian’s first season, 14 in his second, 18 in his third and 17 in his fourth. By then, the club had already sold Aduriz to Mallorca, Fernando was the undisputed starter and had reached international status with Spain. He was World Champion in South Africa in 2010 and Europe in 2012. By then he was already one of the most sought-after strikers in the League.
With the arrival of Bielsa, his figure continued to shine. He was one of the banners of Athletic who marveled at Old Trafford, the Veltins Arena and throughout his European tour, which ended in the Bucharest final against Atlético de Madrid. In the semifinal against Sporting de Portugal, Llorente scored the qualifying goal at San Mamés in the 90th minute. The Cup final against Barcelona was another of the two missed opportunities to win a title with the rojiblancos.
But from there, things went wrong in Bilbao. In the summer, another of the rojiblancas figures, Javi Martínez, left the club and Llorente delayed renewing him, until he announced to the club that he would leave at the end of the season.
Bielsa’s second campaign was not like the first; Athletic rescued Aduriz from Valencia and the San Sebastian began to have more prominence than Llorente. He played 26 games and only scored four goals. Months before the end of the season, Juventus announced that they would sign the striker born in Navarra but raised in Rincón de Soto (La Rioja). The first campaign in Vecchia Signora it was splendid. The international striker scored 16 goals in 34 games, but his role diminished the following season (31 games and 7 goals), so at the end of 2015 he signed for Sevilla, but for the man from La Rioja he began a journey through various clubs in the It didn’t have much continuity.
Although at Swansea he scored 15 goals in 33 games, and those numbers helped him land, transferred for 17 million euros, at Tottenham, in London, alongside Harry Kane, he failed to shine. Despite everything, a goal of his in discount, put the London team in the Champions League final. Later he played for Napoli, was loaned to Udinese, returned to the southern Italian team, and finally ended his career as a footballer at Eibar, in the Second Division, with whom he played 20 games and scored two goals.
Later, although he continued to train on his own, he did not find a team to suit him. In an interview with the program El Larguero, from Cadena SER, last September, he hinted that his farewell was close. In that dialogue with Manu Carreño, he confessed that “things did not turn out as I would have liked with Athletic. I had to say goodbye to the club where I grew up from the age of 12 to 28. I feel like home”, and he pointed out that, “I am very sorry not to have come back and finish well, although I am happy with the career I have had” . The last attempt to return to Bilbao was aborted by the board of directors of Aitor Elizegi, before the response of the social mass of the club. Rafa Alkorta, the sports director, had suggested hiring him.
In his final farewell note, Fernando Llorente, world and European champion, winner of two Leagues, one Cup and two Super Cups with Juventus, one Cup with Napoli and one Europa League with Sevilla, shows his gratitude, “to all for the opportunities offered and to the fans who always support me for the love received during all these years. I consider myself lucky to have been able to enjoy all the moments that football has made me live and for all the great people, friends that I have been able to meet along the way”.
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