Piqué: jeers turn to cheers for defender as Spain arrive in León

The defender returned to the city where the Spanish fans first whistled him - and was on the end of a much warmer welcome this time.

Piqué: jeers turn to cheers for defender as Spain arrive in León

Spain are now in León as they prepare to kick off their World Cup qualifying campaign in the city with a clash against Liechtenstein (Monday, 20:45 CEST).

And the arrival of Julen Lopetegui's men - who began the new coach's tenure with a dominant victory over Belgium on Thursday - saw Gerard Piqué enjoy a somewhat more positive reception than the last time La Roja were in town.

Whistled in Costa Rica friendly

In June 2015, the Barcelona man was whistled by sections of the home support at the Estadio Municipal Reino de León as Spain earned a 2-1 friendly win against Costa Rica.

The jeers came after Piqué had publicly poked fun at Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo during Barça's treble celebrations at the Camp Nou four days previously.

That began a wave of frosty welcomes for the player as his deteriorating standing among the Spanish fans led to whistles in subsequent games in locations such as Logroño and Oviedo.

Piqué takes a time-out during Spain training in León.

Warmer welcome a year on

But in a sign of his now much improved relationship with the Spain faithful, Piqué was applauded as he made his way into the team hotel on Sunday, stopping to sign autographs for some of the close to 500 supporters waiting for the squad.