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Nino, el delantero eterno

Se llama Juan Francisco Martínez Modesto (Almería, 10-6-1980), pero pocos le ponen cara si se le cita por su nombre a pesar de que desde su debut, aún en el siglo XX (1999), no ha dejado de marcar en Primera y Segunda división excepto en la temporada de tránsito que vivió con el Elche, un club al que lleva muy dentro. Tanto que no quiso abandonarlo tras el descenso de 2017 a Segunda B pese a que las ofertas se acumularon. Si se habla de Nino, la cosa cambia porque en el fútbol profesional no hay nadie que no conozca al único delantero que ha superado el medio millar de partidos (572) en la categoría de plata. Un rematador tan veterano (40 años) como letal en el área convertido en leyenda en el Martínez Valero, donde recibe tratamiento de ídolo, entre otros motivos por su cercanía y porque es el máximo realizador histórico de la Segunda división española (194). Su última muesca, el pasado domingo en La Romareda, valió la clasificación para la final del playoff de ascenso que el Elche abre hoy ante el Girona (22.00 horas, #Vamos), rival con un capítulo muy especial en la biografía de Juan Francisco Martínez Modesto, Nino para todos. Futbolista fiel que se ganado el respeto y la admiración de sus compañeros durante dos décadas de celebraciones, el último gran sueño de Nino pasa por ascender con el Elche a la élite. Sensación que ya experimentó con el Tenerife (2009) y el Osasuna (2016) y que ahora quiere repetir en el gran club de vida. Ha vestido de franjiverde doce temporadas en dos etapas diferentes, pero nunca en Primera, el reto que ahora le desvela. «Es mi sueño. Ojalá pueda seguir ayudando. Ojalá me falte un gol o más o el definitivo para conseguir el objetivo», afirmó en declaraciones a los medios de su club. Curiosamente, sus dos anteriores ascensos los celebró ante el Girona en Montilivi. La final se decidirá allí el domingo y se ilusiona al pensar que «no hay dos sin tres». Sencillo y humilde, el nombre de Nino no ha dejado de sonar desde 1998. Aquel año debutó con el Elche en Segunda división B y una temporada después se estrenó en la categoría de plata, convertida en el hábitat natural durante su carrera, aunque llegó a instalarse en el techo del fútbol durante cinco temporadas, repartidas entre el Levante, Tenerife y Osasuna. Volver a Primera es ahora una posibilidad real en una temporada complicada para su equipo. Como Nino a lo largo de su carrera, el Elche se ha ido sobreponiendo a la adversidad en este playoff, al que llegó tras semanas de incertidumbre por el caso Fuenlabrada. La expulsión de Jonathas en el Martínez Valero a la media hora en la ida ante el Zaragoza mostró el carácter, la entrega y la solidaridad que personifica su delantero, autor del gol que dio la clasificación días después en La Romareda. A sus 40 años, Nino ha aparecido en la foto inicial en 32 partidos de Liga de una temporada a la que quiere poner el broche de oro con el ascenso que tanto desea.
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