'A strange day' - Leeds United defender on mixed emotions of big win and loss of national team place

Leeds United defender Diego Llorente has opened up on the mixed emotions of the Wolves win and receiving a Spain call up that was taken away from him just hours later.

By Graham Smyth
Sunday, 20th March 2022, 12:14 pm

The centre-half last played for his country in April 2021 but was part of Luis Enrique's Euro 2020 squad and returned to the Spain bench for the World Cup Qualifying game against Sweden in November. On Friday he was called up again as one of Enrique's defenders for the March fixtures at home to Albania and away at Iceland.

Although he's managed to play significantly more Premier League minutes in his second season at Elland Road, having suffered a torrid time through injuries in the 2020/21 campaign, Llorente missed new boss Jesse Marsch's first game in charge at Leicester City with a knock. He was fit enough for a place on the bench against Aston Villa and got his first start under Marsch in the win over Norwich City.

But a back spasm flared up again at Wolves on Friday night, forcing him off injured in the first half along with Mateusz Klich [concussion] and Patrick Bamford [foot].

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"Diego Llorente had a little bit of a back spasm, which has been bothering him a little bit here and there so probably means he'll stay here for the national team break and we'll treat him and get him back to full health," said Marsch after the 3-2 win that sparked wild celebrations for the Whites.

It made for an emotional day for Llorente.

"Yesterday was a strange day," he said, via Twitter.

"The happiness of the national team call and the team's incredible victory were mixed with the pain of suffering an injury that, moreover, will prevent me from playing for Spain. It is time to recover and support my teammates from the outside."

BITTER SWEET - Diego Llorente was called up for Spain, played for Leeds United against Wolves, picked up an injury and watched his team-mates secure a huge win. Pic: Getty

Llorente has started 21 of Leeds' Premier League games this season, seven more than he managed in his debut season in English football.