Joaquín &Quot;El Chapo&Quot; Guzmán

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He did make a habit of finding the net at the Camp Nou towards the backend of the campaign, as Betis pushed for a historic Champions League place, scoring twice in a manic 3-3 draw. His second, a cute finish in off the near post, had put the visitors two goals ahead, but Samuel Eto’o and Giovanni van Bronkhorst rescued a point for Frank Rijkaard’s Blaugrana.

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Ahead of the final round of matches in LaLiga that season, it was common knowledge that an Andalusian club would qualify for the Champions League for the first time since its rebranding in 1992. What nobody dared to predict, though, was whether it would be Betis or Sevilla.

A win at Son Moix would do it for Los Verdiblancos, but a late Real Mallorca equaliser caused heartbeats to fluctuate in the southern districts of Seville. Fortunately for them, Málaga had dealt Sevilla a defeat at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, confirming Betis’s place at Europe’s top table for the first time.

At the start of July that summer, Joaquín got married to Susana and, while he was waiting for his bride to arrive at the church, Betis president Manuel Ruiz de Lopera turned up with a special guest. A month before, Serra Ferrer had guided Betis to just their second Copa del Rey triumph, beating Osasuna in extra time in the final at the Estadio Vicente Calderón. The trophy, on the president’s insistence, would make an appearance at Joaquiín’s wedding.

After a disagreement over where to situate the trophy, Lopera put it centre stage. “There I was getting married with the Copa behind me,” the groom remembered some years later. “All the photos I have in the album have the trophy there in the background.”

Despite attractive offers from elsewhere, Joaquín was rarely tempted to divorce his beloved Betis. Chelsea were one of the clubs to come in for him, but the midfielder stood José Mourinho up ahead of a meeting in Seville. “I knew if I went, I would end up going to England. So I didn’t go,” Joaquin later admitted. “I spoke to Mourinho later and apologised. And afterwards he thanked me. He said: ‘I appreciate you being honest because, well, you are the first footballer that has said no to me’.”

After representing Spain at the 2006 World Cup, Joaquín returned to Seville to find himself the subject in a tense transfer saga.

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So, with the cameras homing in, the audience silent and viewers watching the live show from home, Joaquín sat there, massaging a hen’s neck until it appeared to fall under his control. The clip is, of course, out there on the internet if you fancy a laugh or if you’re looking for tips on how to hypnotise hens.

Footballers are often the subject of compilation videos on social media. You’ll find stacks of clips of players like Neymar on YouTube, with each fancy trick raising Joey Barton’s blood pressure higher and higher. For Joaquín, though, the attention that surrounds him is mainly centred on his off-the-field antics.

One YouTube channel has put together a series of up to 14 videos, each lasting more than ten minutes, and none of them feature the Betis winger playing any football. Instead, you get two hours’ worth of little clips that almost all end in its protagonist baring his cheeky grin or burying his face into the shoulder of one of his teammates after telling a joke.

Joaquín is so much more than this nice-guy persona, however, having spent his entire footballing life trying to prove he wasn’t just a flash in the pan in his early-20s. He has made more appearances than any other outfield player in LaLiga history and he may well catch leader Andoni Zubizarreta before he hangs up his boots.

In December 2019, he became the oldest player to score a hat-trick in LaLiga history, netting the first treble of his lengthy career against Athletic. “I don’t think it’s going to happen again,” he blushed afterwards. This is the real Joaquín, rightly lauded for his ability with a ball and his charisma in front of a camera.

“I’m relaxed but also serious in my job,” Joaquin told El País in 2016. “I haven’t spent 16 years in the elite because I’m funny. Yes, I have learned to do my job naturally, always enjoying myself. Football is a career for privileged people.”