- Dec 19, 2003
Date of birth 26 February 1985 (age 27)
Place of birth Pamplona, Spain
Height 1.95 m (6 ft 5 in)
Weight 90 kg
Playing position Striker
Fernando Llorente Torres (Spanish pronunciation: [ferˈnando ˈʎoɾente ˈtores]; born 26 February 1985), nicknamed El Rey León (The Lion King in Spanish), is a Spanish footballer who plays for Athletic Bilbao and the Spanish national team, as a striker.
Llorente started his career with Athletic Bilbao, working his way through the various youth ranks, and becoming one of the most important offensive players for the club in the following decade, since making his first team debuts in 2005.
A Spanish international since late 2008, he helped the national team win the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Though born in Pamplona, Llorente grew up in the municipality of Rincón de Soto in La Rioja. He joined Athletic de Bilbao's youth system in 1996 at the age of 11, being eligible through his Navarrese roots.
Llorente spent several seasons in the various junior levels of the club, moving in 2003 to CD Baskonia of Tercera División, effectively an Athletic youth team, and also a feeder club since 1997. He scored 12 goals in 33 games for Baskonia, paving way for his promotion to Bilbao Athletic, Athletic's reserve team, in Segunda División B.
After featuring in 16 matches and netting four goals for the Bilbao Athletic in the first half of season, Llorente was awarded with a contract extension until June 2008. On 16 January 2005, he made his first-team – and La Liga – debut in a 1–1 home draw against RCD Espanyol. Three days later, in a Copa del Rey match with UD Lanzarote, he scored a hat-trick in a 6–0 victory, and would go on to feature in all but five of the 19 remaining league games while scoring three goals, and also featuring in four domestic cup matches and the UEFA Cup round-of-32 game against FK Austria Wien.
Before the 2005–06 season, Llorente's squad number was promoted from number 32 to 9. He scored in the opening day, a Basque derby 3–0 win against Real Sociedad but, throughout the season, found goals hard to come by, which could be partly attributed to a series of injuries including a knee strain, gastroenteritis and a muscle injury. He ended the season with just four goals, two in the league and as much in the Cup, against CE L'Hospitalet.
On 13 July 2006, Llorente signed a new contract with Athletic until June 2011, which included a buy-out clause of between €30 and 50 million. He started the season as arguably the club's fourth-choice striker, behind Aritz Aduriz, Joseba Etxeberria and veteran Ismael Urzaiz. Athletic's poor form and lack of goals led to coach Félix Sarriugarte into rotating the players, allowing Llorente to force his way back into the side; he ended the campaign with only two goals in 23 matches, although he did score an important one in the closing minutes of a 1–1 draw at Valencia CF.
In preparation for the 2007–08 season, Llorente scored six goals in as many pre-season games, and another against CD Numancia in the Caja Duero Trophy. His form led to him becoming Athletic's first-choice forward, and although he started the season poorly, he ended it with a total of 11 league goals for a side that finished in mid-table. His tally included four goals in two games against Valencia, both impressive wins, and further strikes against FC Barcelona, Villarreal CF and Atlético de Madrid.
Prior to 2008–09, Llorente was confident of a successful season. "I know that I am capable of scoring goals and having a good year and I want to start this term in the same form that I ended the last one in" he said. Despite the team's modest start to the season he netted 14 league goals – a career-best – with another four in the Cup, helping his team reach the final against Barcelona (1–4 loss).
In the 2009–10 season, Llorente again scored in double figures. Additionally, he led all scorers in the Europa League for a lengthy period, with eight goals; he added 14 in the league as Athletic finished in eighth position.
On 28 August 2010, Llorente scored the first goal of 2010–11, in a 1–0 win at Hércules CF. His form continued in the next ten league fixtures as he found the net seven times, eventually finishing the season with 18 goals (19 overall) as Athletic qualified to the Europa League.
In January/February 2012, in two away games separated by only four days, Llorente scored five goals: he started with a hat-trick in a 3–2 win against Rayo Vallecano, adding two in Athletic's win over CD Mirandés for the Spanish Cup semifinals (2–1). In the next two matches, both at home, he netted three more, one against Espanyol in the league and two against Mirandés.
Llorente scored in both legs of the 2011–12 Europa League round-of-16 against Manchester United, as Athletic won both games and went through 5–3 on aggregate, eventually reaching the final.
Llorente represented Spain at the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship. His five goals led him to win the silver boot as the competition's second highest scorer, and he was also capped at under-18 and u-19 levels.
On 14 November 2008, senior national team manager Vicente del Bosque called Llorente for a friendly against Chile, and he was brought on as a substitute in the 72nd minute of an eventual 3–0 win. He scored his first goal in a 2–0 friendly win over England on 11 February 2009, coming off the bench to score in the 64th minute; after netting 14 goals for Athletic in 2008–09, del Bosque named Llorente in his 23-man squad for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup: he came from the bench against hosts South Africa, and scored in a 2–0 victory.
During the 2009–10 season, Llorente was not called-up once, as del Bosque favoured Álvaro Negredo. However, he would be selected for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, also in South Africa, as third-choice striker, where he played in one match for the eventual champions, the last 30 minutes of the 1–0 round-of-16 win against Portugal.
On 8 October 2010, benefiting from the injury of Fernando Torres, Llorente started in a UEFA Euro 2012 qualifier against Lithuania, in Salamanca. With two headers – his strongest asset – he contributed prominently in a 3–1 win. Four days later, as a substitute, he scored the winner against Scotland for a 3–2 success at Hampden Park; he was selected for the final stages in Poland and Ukraine, being an unused squad member as Spain won another tournament.
Additionally, Llorente was called several times by the Basque Country national football team. He scored one goal for the tricolor in a match against Catalonia at the Camp Nou, in 2006.