In the early nineties of the last century, Levante UD was going through one of the worst periods in its history. That decade and the previous one saw the hard years of cement, when very few fans regularly attended matches at the Ciutat and being a Granota in Valencia was synonymous with being a real outsider. Since 1982/83 there was a brief lapse of a couple of seasons in the Second Division (in 1989/90 and the following season) but the natural habitat (until the return to the silver division in the 1996/97 season) was the Third Division and Segunda B. The joy for the Orriols fans came in dribs and drabs.

After the excellent international showcase that the Barcelona Olympics, held between July and August 1992, represented for Spain, Levante UD returned a month later to its harsh sporting reality. Bajo la presidencia de Ramón Victoria el equipo iniciaba su segunda temporada consecutiva en el Grupo III de la Segunda B. And on the bench Luis Costa (the coach who had finished the previous season) made way for Juan Muñoz who, in the end, would manage the team in its entirety that post-Olympic year..

Among the new recruits was a lanky striker with a formidable build (1.86m and 85kg) from Murcia side Roldán CD (who had been relegated from Group III, where the Granotes had been the previous season). Originally from the town of Linares in Jaén, he was a globetrotter who had already played for half a dozen teams in Segunda B. Although only at Alcoyano had he achieved a good scoring record, reaching 12 goals. His name was Joaquín Béjar Martínez but everyone called him Quini.

Quini was an extraordinary striker who played for Levante UD during the 1992/93 and 1993/94 seasons.

Levante was placed in the group of Valencian, Catalan and Murcian teams. They had to face historic clubs such as Hércules, Nàstic, Murcia, Elche, Alcoyano and Sant Andreu from Barcelona. And while it is true that the team always wandered around the top half of the table, they had no chance of finishing in the top four, who were the ones who played the final promotion to the Second Division.

So the great joy of that campaign for the granota fans was undoubtedly Quini’s goalscoring explosion. In his first season as a Azulgrana, he scored 21 goals, his second best ever as a footballer. And not only that. His goals were generally of extraordinary quality. Several times he managed to score with spectacular shots from outside the box… Or by concluding moves with an astonishing quality, comparable to that of the top players in international football at the time. Watching Quini in action was a treat for the senses. And two teams suffered particularly badly from his goalscoring ravages. Hercules conceded a brace in Alicante and at the Ciutat. And Nàstic conceded a goal in Tarragona and a hat trick from Quini in Orriols.

Levante drew 2-2 in the derby at Mestalla against Valencia B on 27 March 1993. Both goals were scored by Quini. From left to right and from top to bottom Quini, Andrés (goalkeeper), Cuenca, Mascarell, Albelda, Olivas, Tejero, Ballester, Sancho, Lorenzo and Ginés.

On May 1, 1993, Levante beat Manlleu 3-1 in the Ciutat de València. The score was opened by Quini with a spectacular goal. His team-mate Chuli crossed a perfect ball to him from the right flank, the player from Linares stopped it on the fly with his chest and, on the way down, slammed it home for a truly magnificent goal. In the picture celebrating that extraordinary goal

After finishing in ninth position, Levante UD faced the new 1993/94 season with the unavoidable objective of leaving the Segunda B. To this end, there was a change in the bench and José Enrique Díaz became the new coach. New players also arrived and significantly raised the level of the team. Goalkeeper Rodri was to become the first-choice goalkeeper for the next four seasons. Alongside him, midfielders Uriz and Portillo and striker Antoñito were other important additions. For his part, Quini continued to be the undisputed reference point in attack. He once again had an excellent championship with some brilliant records. His goal-scoring record was set at 18 goals and, once again, the Granota fans were able to enjoy the quality of an exceptional footballer.

Quini in the 3-1 win against Elche on 23 October 1993. That day he scored one of the goals. In the picture, Elche defender Paulino is about to make a very hard tackle on the Andalusian while his teammate Manzano watches the action.

On 14 November 1993, Levante faced a key match against UD Atlético Gramenet (the great revelation of that season). The Granotes drew 1-1 on Catalan soil and Quini was, once again, the scorer of the decisive goal. From left to right and from top to bottom: Marrero, Mascarell, Torres, Cudi, Rodri (goalkeeper), Portillo, Antoñito, Quini, Cerdán, Uriz and Izquierdo.

On 21 November 1993, the Granotes again drew 1-1, this time at the Ciutat de València against Alcoyano. In the picture Quini in an action of that match.

But the team was not performing as well as expected, the possibility of promotion was becoming more complicated and in February 1994 events came to a head. After a 0-1 defeat at home to Sant Andreu on match day 25, Levante were in ninth place in the table. The following day, and after almost eight years at the helm, Ramón Victoria stepped down as president of the club. And the first measure taken by José Luis López, the new head of the club, was to change the coach. Jordi Gonzalvo was the man chosen to bring the situation back on track.

Photo of the Levante UD squad of the 1993/94 season with coach Jordi Gonzalvo and president José Luis López. Quini is seated third from the right.

The team strung together five consecutive victories and moved into third place in the league championship. The last of these spectacular victories was a 5-1 win over Santa Eulalia at the Ciutat. That day Quini scored his second and last hat trick as a Levante. In the last eight games of the tournament, the same positive dynamic continued and the team finished third, which gave them the option of playing in the promotion to the second division with Salamanca, Las Palmas and Barakaldo.

Quini celebrating one of the three goals he scored against Santa Eulalia on 13 March 1994. On that day, the Ibizan side conceded 5-1. With him, his teammate Ginés and Ortiz, the goalkeeper of the Balearic team.

Unfortunately, however, the epilogue of that season was not what they had hoped for. The Blue and Reds finished third in that decisive group and it was the Salamanca side who, in the end, won promotion to the silver division. And so ended the career of the great Levante striker Quini, a football crack who, for two unforgettable years, amazed the fans.