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MARCOS LLORENTE

Marcos Llorente: no shortcuts to success at Real Madrid

Marcos Llorente chats to AS about the sacrifices he has had to make to triumph in football and why he'll be eternally grateful to Rafa Benítez.

Family tree

You are the latest in the line: Llorente-Grosso-Gento. Between your father Paco, your uncle Julio, your grandad Grosso and your great uncles Paco and Antonio Gento, your family have clocked up 1,163 games in official competition for Real Madrid...

Wow, I didn't know that - incredible figures.

So we can safely say that you were never going to play for the red and white half of the city...

No - no chance! My dad played for both Real Madrid and Atlético, but I preferred seeing him in a white shirt… I'd love to play many derbies in that white shirt. Many members of my family have made history with Real Madrid, and now I want to follow in their footsteps.

Your uncles Jose Luis and Toñín played for Real Madrid's basketball team and your mother, Gelu Moreno, represented Spain at international level...

When I was a kid I actually preferred basketball to football. I have a photographed which my grandad signed: 'To the next Michael Jordan’. I juggled both sports until I ended up enjoying football more because football is the main sport in our house.

With your 'Real Madrid pedigree', why didn't you join the club until after you had turned 13?

The academy, La Fábrica called my father a couple of times but he told them that I couldn't go. He wanted me to enjoy playing football first - with my friends,  because he knew that once you join Madrid, all of the enjoyment side of the game stops... they demand a lot from you.

Paco Gento told AS recently that he would lñove to see you playing at the Bernabéu. Something which your grandfather,Grosso was denied because he passed away in 2002...

It makes me feel very proud top hear those words, especially considering from whom they came. It's a shame about my grandad; I know he would have loved to have seen me play in the Madrid shirt. When he died I didn't even know he once played for Madrid. I feel sad that he can't watch me succeeding after all the advice he could have given me.

Marcos Llorente attends AS in Vitoria-Gasteiz.

And he knew that you would become a professional footballer...

Yes, he'd always say that the “blonde fellah - that little monkey” will be a footballer one day (smiles). He'd say that because I could see that I am a bad loser. When I would lose the kick-a-bouts we used to have in the back garden I would get really upset and start crying (laughs). I've always been very competitivo.

Some say you entered Madrid for your family ties?

They can't say it was because of my father… because wasn't a regular in the side. I was a subtitute in the Under-14s and Under-16s, I've spent all of my life on the bench.

That seems hard to believe...

That's how it was until I reached the Under-19s, with Morientes in charge. And even then I spent the first three or four games atching from the stands…

What was the problem?

I've never been an undisputed first choice and I never had that self-confidence which comes with knowing that you are going to play. Then there was also the physical side. When I realized I was going to be watching games from the stands, I decided - after talking it through with my father, that I would put my studies to one side and start doing extra training in the mornings. Not long after that I started getting games.

Physically, your father was a force to be reckoned with. Did he tell you to pull your socks up?

He always tells me that he made sure he looked after himself when he was playing. I didn't take much notice of that advice... I thought that what we were doing in Valdebebas was enough for me. But I had to realize that my way of thinking had to change. I let him train me and he's a real slave driver!! (laughs). we would go up to a place near Las Rozas called El Pinar and run several miles every day. In the afternoons, I would be training with Madrid. Now, even when I have a day off, I train on my own accord.

Futbol 16/17Marcos Llorente attends AS in Vitoria-Gasteiz.

Healthy eating

And you follow the 'caveman diet'... Tell us more...

It's the Paleolithic diet. It wahat I was eating before, but adapted to my football activities. I eat a bit of everything - chicken, meat, fish and eggs - but only ecological produce, food which has beenm ciltivated without pesticides or additives… With carbohydrates, just rice, no wheat. I've always had a healthy diet - when I was 3 years old my dad would force feed me salads (laughs).

But does it work though?

I've gone three or four years without injury, not even a sprain.

At Alavés Mauricio Pellegrino is you coach, back in the day he was a pretty handy centre-back...

He explains a lot of tactics to me. But basically, if I am able to win balls in midfield it's because physically I am in good shape. My uncle Julio also helps me, he gives me indications about where I should position myself on the pitch. I also watch games back on video with him to correct  mistakes. So when we have video sessions with the squad I am hardly ever caught out, I have already seen what I did wrong.

Some say you are the ‘new Casemiro' while with Castilla, some compared you to Toni  Kroos, conducting play…

I don't want to be the new Casemiro or Kroos. I just hope I can be Marcos Llorente. I don't try to perform other player's functions, only show my best qualities. I don't want to be any player's substitute. I'll keep doing what I have always done, without trying to copy anyone.

From what you are telling me, you don't want to come back to Madrid as a second option…

When I return to Madrid, I'd like to do so with the chance of winning a place in the side. I don't want to be permanently on the bench, waiting for someone to get injured or suspended. I'd rather fight to earn my place.

Do you think that's possible under Zidane?

I think so. I've watched a lot of his training sessions and the players who training intensively get rewarded. I think he will give me an opportunity.

Futbol 16/17Marcos Llorente attends AS in Vitoria-Gasteiz.

Grateful to Benítez

Like Rafa Benítez - he handed you your first team debut.

I only have words of thanks for him. He would bring me in every day to train with the first team squad; he taught me a lot about tactics and allowed me to complete my big dream - to debut with Real Madrid and at the Bernabéu.

Ineligible to play against Madrid

You won't be able to play against Madrid tomorrow due to the clause in your contract.

I'm guted about that. But when I signed the loan deal I knew that I wouldn't be able to play those two games so I'd rather not think about it... I understand the decision they made.

Right then, so what's your prediction for tomorrow?

1-0, Deyverson the scorer.