Saturday, May 21

Juan Francisco Martínez «Nino»: A feat in the midst of a pandemic

Nino holds the trophy for Elche's top scorer in history.  antonio amorós

Nino holds the trophy for Elche’s top scorer in history. antonio amorós

It’s a bittersweet year. I always had the dream of promoting Elche to the First Division, I have been waiting all my life for that moment and I removed the thorn but I lacked the warmth of the Elche fans every Sunday with us in the stadium since we could not share it with them . Those of us who love Elche or who, as is my case, have grown up in the city, where I have been since I was 17 years old, we love the team in First Division and when we do, we cannot enjoy it as it should because of the pandemic. The franjiverde team rose after winning a play-off held in August, in the most anomalous circumstances in the history of sport, after months with the competition frozen throughout Europe due to covid-19. An achievement led by «Nino», its captain, a footballer with 40 years of age who, in the most difficult season, saw his desire to rise with Elche come true, a challenge that he had pending after achieving it with previous teams, such as Tenerife and Osasuna .

Last Sunday Nino became the first player to reach 700 league games between the First and Second Division. He is the player with the most games in the history of the silver category, with 571; top scorer in this competition, with 194 goals and the almost centennial history of Elche; and one of the veterans of professional Spanish soccer with 40 years. In other words, a living franjiverde legend who confesses that he would like to remain linked to football near the field of play when he retires. “This year I’m playing less than I would like, but this is football,” he explains about the 20-21 season, which he hopes to culminate with the exit from relegation places and permanence, “although we all know the reality, it is all very complicated , because in Primera there are great teams and very important budgets. We have to compete, work and achieve the goal no matter what.

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Salvation would be the culmination of the strangest year in the history of sport in which Elche was promoted to First in a feat of a team that overcame the circumstances of a competition that suffered a break of months, resumed in summer with empty stadiums and contagions. For this reason, it obtains the INFORMATION tribute to the world of sport in a year marked by the global health and social crisis. «This recognition is of great value to me because it appreciates our work in such a difficult year. We have met the goal of promotion, a very important award for the city. It is valued much more when things come like this. Not even football is spared from the disease that has altered habits all over the planet. “The coronavirus affects life itself and in our sector it is more of the same. It’s all very weird. We live off our fans in the stadiums but there is no football environment and we have very demanding protocols in the face of the pandemic, to which no one is used. For this reason, this type of recognition must be valued much more, a prize for society because people have a hard time and it is not easy at all, ”says the player.

As a professional athlete, he encourages all citizens to engage in physical activity to release stress, escape and not think about problems for a while, “but about health, good things and that not everything is a pandemic.” The fact that many people have chosen to go for a walk and play sports as a result of confinement is one of the positive aspects that stands out from the current situation.

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