the lion that raised kittens
Sounds like the title of a fable or something, no?
But no, it’s the title of a very endearing article about Fernando Llorente published in El País (in Spanish), really worth a read! I liked it so much that I’m posting about it here, and I’ve also copied the headline and stolen the picture!
The spotlight is on Fernando after his star turn in the Portugal game. (Side note: I think the spotlight should always be on him for being one of the few to dare to wear those tight Adidas jerseys.) It was also his World Cup debut.
Some background info: he’s 1.95m tall (the tallest ever Spanish national team player), he’s from Rincón de Soto in La Rioja, which has a population of 3,500. He started playing football there, with his games only interrupted when a tractor had to pass through. Fernando was born in Pamplona (thus making him eligible to play for Athletic) because his aunt worked in a hospital there. He signed at the age of 11 for Athletic, turning down Barcelona, because one of his uncles was a big lions fan (Athletic is known as Los Leones, the lions) and steered the family in that direction. However, he didn’t start playing with them until he was 12.
As a kid, Fernando would raise kittens by feeding them via bottles. He explains, “one day the cat that ran around gave birth to seven or eight kittens and I raised them by giving them bottles, because that’s the only way to domesticate them, because if their mother feeds them, they’ll always be wild.” Three of the kittens lived, and Fernando kept one of them and named it Flipper [but we knew that already, didn’t we?]. The other two his father, a butcher by profession, gave away.
In his town, Fernando was known as “Fernandito el de Conrado,” (Conrado’s Fernando), with Conrado being his grandfather, a shepherd. In between games and music theory classes, he would accompany his grandfather and the sheep to the mountains, feed the pigs or collect eggs from hens for his mother to sell.
He has two older siblings: Jesús Miguel, who’s 15 years older, and Aitzabel, who’s 12 years older. “I was a happy accident,” Fernando says laughing.
And since Fernando is tall, with blue eyes, people say he resembles Prince Felipe of Spain, including his teammates at Athletic, who have given him a nickname based on his physical similarity to the crown prince.
There’s also an interview with Fernando over at AS – we find out that he calls himself “Fer,” that all his teammates, including his namesake, congratulated him for the debut, and that he’s there for whatever the team needs, whether from the start of the game or in the middle. We also get a bit of too much information: Fernando says he didn’t spend a lot of time in the locker room after the game, because he had to go take the drug test. It took him a while, because he had taken a piss at halftime.
More of Fernando after the jump!
The picture’s from Marca, where Fernando also had this to say: he wanted to have a beer after the game to help with his drug test, but there was only water and isotonic beverages. He was a bit mad that he missed the party in the locker room of Green Point stadium, but he received a ton of messages on his mobile phone congratulating him for his debut, including from Joaquín Caparrós. Fer also spoke with his family.
You can also hear Fernando (along with Javi Martínez) on El Larguero here. See, I told you he is in demand right now! Fernando talks about what he was feeling when he told he would be entering the game, what his role on the team is and his feelings on Fernando Torres.