Diego Llorente left Real Sociedad in the summer of 2020 to join Leeds United in the Premier League.
In January he signed for Roma and now faces the Txuri-urdin for the first time since his departure. The 29-year-old defender has spoken about the Europa League last-16 tie between Roma and Real Sociedad on Radio San Sebastián.
So is this tie special?
“Yes, of course, it is. I had talked about it with the staff in Rome and football always has these coincidences. They will be two good matches, because they were unforgettable years in Donostia,” Llorente said.
You met most of the players in the current Real squad. Have they played any jokes on you?
“No, not at all (smiles). My friends and family have said things to me. I saw most of my former Real team-mates a month ago in Leeds when we played that friendly. I really enjoyed welcoming them and now it’s my turn to play against them again.”
What memories do you have of your time at Real?
“Everything was good. I arrived in Donostia when I was relatively young with my partner and I left more mature, forming a family with my daughter, with many friends and experiences. Both on a sporting and personal level it enriched me a lot and I have very good memories of it.”
And how is your adaptation going now in Rome?
“Well, everything went very quickly. I heard about their interest and for me, it was an important step in my career, because it is one of the biggest clubs in Italy. I’m trying to contribute as much as I can.”
In Rome, you met Mourinho again, a key coach in your career.
“Yes, of course. He was one of the factors that led me to make the decision. He was an important coach in my early days, he gave me confidence and made me make my debut. And for a young boy, that’s something unforgettable. And when he called me again, I didn’t hesitate.”
Have you found him different or is he the same as always?
“Mourinho is as you see him, and nothing changes him. He has very clear ideas and he continues to transmit them very well, as always.”
When is Roma vs Real Sociedad?
Roma and Real Sociedad meet in the Europa League today, Thursday 9 March, at 18:45 in the first leg of the Europa League round of 16.
José Mourinho’s men go into this match having eliminated Salzburg. The Basques didn’t have to play in the round of 32, having finished top of the group.
The second leg between Real Sociedad and Roma will take place next week. It will be played in San Sebastián on Thursday 16 March.
Kieran Quaile | GSFN