Juanfran (footballer, born 1976)
|Full name||Juan Francisco García García|
|Date of birth||15 July 1976|
|Place of birth||Valencia, Spain|
|Height||1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)|
|2005–2006||→ Ajax (loan)||16||(0)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
He started and finished his extensive professional career with Levante, which he represented in all three major levels of Spanish football, going on to amass La Liga totals of 382 games and six goals over 15 seasons and also appearing in the competition for Valencia, Celta and Zaragoza. He also played in Turkey, the Netherlands and Greece.
Born in Valencia, Valencian Community, Juanfran started his professional career at Levante UD, where he attracted the attention of local giants Valencia CF, signing after three seasons for €1 million. On 31 August 1997 he played his first La Liga game, a 1–2 away loss against RCD Mallorca, and went on make 50 overall appearances for the Che.
Juanfran joined RC Celta de Vigo prior to the 1999–2000 campaign for €4 million, where he was an undisputed starter in a Galicia team that appeared in the UEFA Cup and the 2003–04 UEFA Champions League (he scored in a 1–1 tie at Club Brugge KV as his team progressed to the knockout rounds of the latter competition). However, in 2003–04, they would also be relegated to Segunda División.
After leaving Celta in 2004, Juanfran joined Turkish club Beşiktaş JK, but soon fell out of favour with team management – the coach who brought him to Istanbul, compatriot Vicente del Bosque, was dismissed midway through the season – and would spend the following campaign on loan to Dutch side AFC Ajax.
In 2006–07, Juanfran returned to Spain and joined Real Zaragoza for €1.5 million and being a key defensive element as the Aragonese team qualified to the UEFA Cup in that first year. The following season the player struggled individually and collectively, and the club returned to the second level after a five-year stint.
On 30 July 2008, Juanfran agreed to sign a two-year deal with AEK Athens FC, earning approximately €1 million per season. He was used regularly during his spell in Greece but, in late January 2010, was loaned to his first professional team Levante until the end of the second division campaign; only weeks later, he bought out his contract with AEK and signed permanently until June 2012, contributing massively to the former's top flight return after a two-year absence.
The 34-year-old Juanfran was the most used player in his position in 2010–11 (23 matches), as Levante eventually retained their division status. He fared even better in the following season, with the club finishing sixth and qualifying for the Europa League for the first time ever.
On 20 September 2012, in Levante's European competition group stage debut, Juanfran scored the game's only goal at home against Helsingborgs IF, netting with his preferred foot from the corner of the penalty area. On 4 May 2016, after a further four top flight campaigns – suffering relegation in the last – the 39-year-old announced his retirement.
On 10 December 2018, in an interview with Marca, Juanfran revealed he had signed for EFL Championship club Aston Villa as a scout, focusing primarily on Spain and Portugal. He stated "it is a privilege to work for a club like Aston Villa. Everyone identifies it as a big club in England and it’s a dream come true."
Juanfran earned 11 caps for Spain, making his debut in a friendly against Italy on 29 March 2000, after impressive displays at Celta. Subsequently, he was included in the nation's 2002 FIFA World Cup squad, and appeared in three matches out of five.
- Infante, Cristina (1 September 1997). "Venganza en Mallorca" [Revenge in Mallorca]. ABC (in Spanish). Retrieved 31 May 2016.
- "Juanfran" (in Spanish). Yo Jugué en el Celta. 3 April 2008. Retrieved 13 May 2015.
- "Juanfran the man for Besiktas". UEFA. 6 August 2004. Retrieved 2 March 2009.
- "Ajax take a chance on Juanfran". UEFA. 12 August 2005. Retrieved 2 March 2009.
- "Fernández lands former charges". UEFA. 3 July 2006. Retrieved 2 March 2009.
- Gaudioso, Sonia (26 July 2008). "El descartado Juanfran cerró su marcha al AEK de Atenas" [Released Juanfran closed deal with AEK Athens]. Marca (in Spanish). Retrieved 2 March 2009.
- "Juanfran García, un clásico de LaLiga" [Juanfran García, a LaLiga classic] (in Spanish). La Liga. 6 August 2015. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
- Debutants Levante overcome Helsingborg task; UEFA, 20 September 2012
- Rodríguez, Miguel Ángel (4 May 2016). "Juanfran anuncia su retirada" [Juanfran announces retirement]. Marca (in Spanish). Retrieved 31 May 2016.
- Valero, Rafa (10 December 2018). "Juanfran: "Es un orgullo trabajar para un club como el Aston Villa"" [Juanfran: "It is a privilege to work for a club like Aston Villa"]. Marca (in Spanish). Retrieved 29 December 2018.
- Chapman, Joseph (12 December 2018). "Aston Villa appoint new scout ahead of January transfer window". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
- Astruells, Andrés (30 March 2000). "La selección saca nota" [National team get grade]. Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish). Retrieved 14 February 2014.
- Ramírez Orsikowsky, Jorge (11 June 2003). "España tampoco es capaz de ganar a Irlanda del Norte" [Spain cannot beat Northern Ireland as well]. El Mundo (in Spanish). Retrieved 28 December 2017.