Leeds defender on his manager’s unusual methodology, how a documentary series helped him to settle and overcoming adversity
It took Diego Llorente 72 days to make his debut for Leeds United and another 52 to reappear. When he finally managed his first start since joining from Real Sociedad four months earlier, he lasted 10 minutes against Newcastle in January. Another month passed before he could begin again, this time for real, 152 days after signing for £18m. He knows; he was counting them. Those were “very tough days”, he says. But, he insists, they weren’t wasted.
Nor were they so unusual for him, a man who knows the virtue of patience. It’s not how it starts that matters; it’s how it finishes. Llorente, a youth product who went 18 months between his first Real Madrid appearance and his second, got his first Spain cap against Bosnia-Herzegovina in May 2016, joining a squad that because of club commitments had no Real Madrid, Atlético Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich or Manchester United players. Thirty-five games passed until he got a second, Bosnia again the opponents, this time in November 2018.