Jonathan Leko: Still no apology for West Brom youngster after Kiko Casilla charge
Jonathan Leko has revealed he is yet to receive an apology from either Leeds or Kiko Casilla after the goalkeeper was found guilty of using racist language towards him.
But the 21-year-old says he is determined to move on from the incident – with the forward solely focused on battling back from a serious knee injury and winning a spot in Albion’s first team.
It was back in September – while Leko was on loan at Charlton – that Casilla racially abused the forward. But it took football’s authorities five months to investigate the incident and find Casilla guilty, with the Spaniard issued with an eight-game ban.
Leko bravely spoke out to criticise anti-racism body ‘Kick It Out’ and the Professional Footballers’ Association for the lack of support they gave him during that time.
In a statement released by Albion, Leko questioned “whether I would be prepared to go through it all again were I on the receiving end of similar abuse in the future”.
Both Kick It Out’ and the Professional Footballers’ Association immediately apologised to the forward.
Now, though, following meetings with both organisations, Leko says he would speak out if he is ever the victim of racist abuse again.
“I’m just glad it’s over now,” he said.
“At the time, I was annoyed how long it took to get dealt with. That probably made me feel bad because nobody was listening to me or taking me seriously.
“Now I’ve changed my stance and would tell people to report any incident. I had a meeting with the PFA and they say if it happens again, they can speed up the process and get people to help.
“I’ve had lots of support – especially from Charlton. I’ve had nothing from the Leeds side. It surprises me a little bit as I thought I would get some sort of an apology, but I guess they have to back their player.
“It’s done now and I want to move on. I don’t want to talk it over with him. No - I don’t want to do that.”
While the Casilla case was hanging over him, Leko also had to come to terms with suffering a serious injury after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee while playing for Charlton against QPR in December.
The initial diagnosis was that he’d spend 10 months on the sidelines.
But he revealed his recovery is going well and he is ahead of schedule.
“The injury came at the worst time,” Leko added.
“I was playing and Charlton were a good fit for me. It was a good learning experience for me. I really liked Lee Bowyer – he gave me a lot of opportunities.
“The recovery is going well so far and I’m ahead of schedule.
“It’s been hard because I can’t go into the training ground because of the pandemic, so I’ve been doing it on my own in the garage.
“Normally the physio is there to help you, but it has made me stronger.”