Valencia captain Dani Parejo says he has broken down in tears and been called a dog by fans during his side’s dreadful start to the season.
The 27-year-old scored an 88th-minute penalty on Thursday to give his side a much-needed 2-1 victory over Alaves – their first LaLiga points of the campaign.
Valencia’s form led to the sacking of head coach Pako Ayestaran, who was placed in charge after Gary Neville’s chastening spell at Mestalla between December and April last term.
Parejo has faced huge criticism from disenchanted supporters and says a lack of backing from within the club itself has been difficult to handle.
“It was a difficult time to take a penalty but I like challenges and I’m delighted to have scored and taken three points,” he told Cadena Cope. “I knew that if I missed that penalty I wouldn’t get out of Mestalla.
“I’m used to criticism. A lot of people say that I need to run more, that I don’t give enough, that I’m a dog. Some tell me that I’m a dog when I’m walking on the streets with my family and it has reached a point that I don’t care if they call me that. Those people don’t love Valencia, they are not true fans.
“I have given everything for the club, for the coaches that we have had. We went 12 games without winning under Nuno [Espirito Santo] and every Sunday I stood there to face the music and defend the coach, and yet I was the one who took the criticism.
“I never got a call to see how I was. I felt alone. I’ve cried several times with my wife about the situation.”
Parejo was the subject of a bid from Sevilla during the transfer window, but insisted he is as committed as ever to helping Valencia overcome their troubles.
“An opportunity came along and I assessed it,” he said. “But my destiny was to remain at Valencia. I’m a professional and I train and run harder than anyone here.”
Valencia travel to Butarque on Sunday to face Leganes.