A whole life passed in front of Joaquin on a festive night full of emotions. 23 years in professional football and 622 games in LaLiga are already part of the story of a unique footballer. It was a special, vibrant and moving tribute, perhaps the best for a character who has transcended the world of football to become a true social icon. The final chapter of Joaquin’s farewell took place in his field, Benito Villamarin, filled with 60,000 Betis who gave themselves to his idol in a demonstration of faith. The focus of the tribute was a friendly match between Joaquin’s teammates at Betis and rivals and also teammates from the teams in which he played as well as the Sevillian team, in the case of Valencia, Malaga and Fiorentina.
In the eleven in which Joaquin played, players from the Betic first team lined up, in the case of Aitor Ruibal, Miranda or Borja Iglesias. With Canales, Juanmi, Ayoze and Guardado on the bench. Footballers who accompanied Joaquin in his career at Betis passed through that team, such as Doblas, Juanito, Rivas, Assuncao, Oliveira or Denilson. On the bench, in addition to his two brothers, Ricardo and Lucas, who spent a few minutes in the second half, other teammates such as Contreras, Luis Fernandez, Ito, Varela, Tais, Edu, Canas, Arzu, Capi, Barragan, Merino, Cejudo, Benjamin, Melli or Ruben Castro. All trained by Manuel Pellegrini, who has taken Betis to Europe for the third consecutive year and for the first time in its history.
Men who have made history in Spanish football played in the so-called team of legends. Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Marchena, Capdevila, Angulo, Ceballos, Baptista, Guti, Cazorla, Luque and Raul faced the Verdiblancos, with Jose Antonio Camacho on the bench, the coach who made him debut in the Spanish team and took him to the World Cup in Korea and Japan at the age of 20. Reina, Albelda, Camacho, Mendieta, Saviola, Sergio Leon, Nolito, Morientes, Tristan, Van Nistelrooy, Bellerin, Borja Valero, Fabian, Duda and Jesus Navas completed the selection of stars. The match official was Eduardo Iturralde Gonzalez. Ceballos, Reina, Sergio Ramos, Bellerin, Raul and Fabian were the most acclaimed players by the Verdiblanca fans. The Betic fans asked Ceballos to return from Madrid. Also Jesus Navas, world champion with Spain and captain of Sevilla, Betis’ eternal rival, was very well received in a packed Villamarin. “I did not hesitate for a moment to be here,” Navas himself clarified.
Fernando Vazquez, Lorenzo Serra Ferrer and Enrique Setien, three Betis coaches who marked Joaquin’s career, were also invited to an act that was experienced with enormous intensity. The model and journalist Eva Gonzalez acted as a presenter in a function that opened with the performance of the singer Nina Pastori, a friend of Joaquin. The president of the Junta de Andalucia, Juan Manuel Moreno Bonilla, attended the tribute of one of the most illustrious Andalusians. The proceeds from the party went to the fight against childhood cancer.
The 60,000 Beticos present once again enjoyed Casillas’ stops, Denilson’s bicycles, Guti’s class and Cazorla’s talent. It is what you have to culminate a 23-year career. Several generations of class players forged at the end of the 20th century and in this 21st century went to pay a heartfelt tribute to a unique footballer like Joaquin. The result was the least of it, but the portuense scored in his farewell and the party that took place in the Verdiblanco stadium was one of those of the time. Even the Torre del Oro, one of Seville’s emblematic monuments, was adorned with a projection of Joaquin’s face.
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Source: EL PAIS