As the tributes came, it was not just about a wonderful footballer who was the top scorer in Spain’s first division five times, plus twice more in the second; a striker who played for Spain, Barcelona and Sporting, but a man who was universally admired; warm, generous and kind, with time for everyone.
The following day, the police found his car abandoned with the doors still open.
They had slept rough on the hill of Montjuic as they planned the kidnapping, and when police finally liberated Quini, a magazine article on him was among the things they found.
The kidnappers made the occasional threat, even though one of them promised Quini that nothing would happen to him, adding: “I’m even a Barcelona fan.” At one stage, they even complained that Quini was costing them a fortune in sandwiches, to which his wife, María Nieves, snapped: “You kidnapped a sportsman for god’s sake, next time kidnap a Hare Krishna.” They were kids, amateurs, and they were scared, but that did not diminish the fear and the impact on Barcelona was enormous.
The league slipped out of our hands.” Eventually, the police were tipped off about the van outside the Zaragoza lock-up where he was being held.