Joaquin is truly one of the great footballing enigmas. His joyful and often childlike personality and sense of humour has made him one of the most recognisable sporting figures in Spain.
Go to his beloved Real Betis’ YouTube page and the most popular uploads all revolve around him. Joaquin driving the team bus, Joaquin giving a joyful press conference to a room full of kids, Joaquin flamboyantly dancing to J-Lo in nothing but a towel.
His force of personality is so strong that he could comfortably slot into football punditry or even mainstream TV.
And yet, at 40 years old Joaquin is still putting in the work to keep up with players who weren’t even born when he started out.
He’s played all of his sides Europa League games this season and a decent chunk of the sides La Liga fixtures. Make no mistake, Joaquin deserves your upmost respect.
After rising through the Betis youth ranks, he announced himself on the world stage as Spain’s most exciting player at the 2002 World Cup while still just 20.
He again featured at Euro 2004 before becoming Valencia’s record signing in 2006. Decent spells at Malaga and Fiorentina followed but it was when he arrived back at Betis in 2015 that Joaquin really found himself again.
His status at the club offered him the freedom to be himself. And that’s just what he has been. The last five years have seen him hypnotise a hen on live TV, get huge on Tik Tok and become as far as we can tell the only player to ever be included on the injury list with a hangover (for a friendly against Wolves three days after his 40th birthday).
But that’s Joaquin, the joker, the all fun all the time larger than life personality.
And yet. For a man who has become primarily known for his laid back demeanour and antics off the pitch he has now made more appearances than any other outfield player in LaLiga history.
And if there’s one thing that drives him more than any other it’s his love for Betis. Indeed, after putting in over €1m of his own money into shares he now effectively owns 2% of the whole club. And the man who debuted the year Phil Foden, Vinicius Junior and Alphonso Davies were born is as passionate as ever.
Words by Andy Gallagher