‘Everyone should respect my decision’

Returning to the Athletic Bilbao team and scoresheet today, Fernando Llorente has reflected on a hard summer and the respect he feels he deserves from fans.

The forward has been the target of abuse from sections of support during the summer, when he was sidelined from first-team duty for refusing to renew his contract, with the intention of transferring out.

With Athletic demanding his full buyout clause against a contract expiring in June 2013, he remained and has subsequently been reintroduced to the first team.

The player made his first League appearance of the season from the bench today, and scored within two minutes during Athletic’s draw at Espanyol.

“It pains me that there a people who are against me. It pains me to doubt myself, I’ve always given everything for Athletic,” the striker told Cadena SER post match.

“The intense summer has not helped me, but I am physically fit. It was a hard summer. I must make difficult decisions, they are things that you never know how will end.

“In the end I have to go through some difficult times. Sometimes when you are having a bad time, though, it makes you stronger.”

Llorente then spoke of his current situation with the club, with his contract expiring next summer.

“In January I am free to negotiate [with other clubs], but I will put that aside to help the team. The less said about me the better.

“Although there is a point in my career when I will no longer play for Athletic, the team will always be with me, it is personal.

“This is the club that has given me everything as I grew up from a child. If, for whatever reason, I leave here, no-one has to be angry with me. It is a personal decision and everyone should respect it.”

Tags Llorente