At the ripe old age of 41 and with over 700 games under his belt, Juan Francisco Martinez Modesto ‘Nino’, has finally called it a day.
He made the announcement last weekend at a very emotional press conference at the club.
“I didn’t want to start crying but I cannot hold it anymore. I just want to thank everybody in this club and all others that helped me throughout my career. I will always be appreciative, and I will always carry you all in my heart,” Nino said.
Nino started his career in the Real Madrid youth team prior to signing for Elche CF ‘B’ in 1997. He was promoted to the senior team squad in 1998, since which time he has also played for Levante UD, CD Tenerife, CA Osasuna, prior to returning to Elche CF where he has finally brought his distinguished career to a close.
The player with the most appearances for Elche (475) and the club’s top scorer with 135 goals, last season, the diminutive striker appeared in 16 games in LaLiga and 3 in Copa del Rey, scoring one goal against CD Bunol.
In January this year, at the age of 40, Nino took part in Elche’s 1-0 La Liga away defeat to Athletic Bilbao. In doing so, he became the first player to reach 700 games in Spain’s two professional divisions. He said that he felt grateful to the fans and thanked them for the love which they showed him during his time at the club.
“Wonderful memories, I’m sure that I’ll look back in the future with a lot of fondness and gratitude. Every player wants to reach the top, professional football, and to feel the love of the fans.
On my last day, there weren’t many in the stands, but I felt the love of the whole city, singing my name. Unique moments that make being a footballer worthwhile. Moments that I’ll never, ever forget. And it was wonderful that my family could live those moments too, for me that’s very important.”