When Real Betis won the 2021/22 Copa del Rey, it was an emotional moment for all Béticos as the club lifted its first major trophy in 17 years. For lifelong Real Betis fan Juan Miranda, it was an especially surreal night as the 22-year-old scored the winning penalty of the shootout against Valencia CF.
When the Andalusian club previously won the Copa del Rey in 2004/05, Miranda was five years old and in the stands of the Estadio Vicente Calderón to cheer on the club in their victory over CA Osasuna in the final. Then, in the 2022 final, he was on the pitch at La Cartuja with the ball in his hands, aware that success from the spot would bring out the green and white confetti.
In a post-match interview, he later remarked: “I was determined to score the penalty so that I could make the fans, my family and my friends, who were there in the stands, very happy. That was the most important thing. I had to score that penalty no matter what.”
Miranda did score the penalty, sending Valencia CF goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili the wrong way, before falling to his knees to take in the historic moment, with his teammates rushing towards him to celebrate.
For the left-back, this was the biggest moment of his career so far and he had worked hard for it. Although he started out in Real Betis’ own academy, Miranda had to leave home as part of his journey to professional football. When he was 14 years of age, FC Barcelona came calling with an offer to join the famous La Masia and the teenager knew he couldn’t turn down this incredible opportunity.
He quickly made it to FC Barcelona’s B team and became the first player born in 2000 or later to play in LaLiga SmartBank when he made his debut for that squad in a trip to Real Valladolid in the opening round of the 2017/18 campaign. He also played for the Catalan club’s UEFA Youth League squad that season, helping the Blaugrana win that tournament with his five assists in the competition.
Miranda continued playing on the left side of FC Barcelona B’s defence in 2018/19, but also earned four first-team appearances under Ernesto Valverde, three of them in the Copa del Rey and one of them in a Champions League group game against Tottenham.
The 2019/20 season then saw Miranda move abroad for the first and only time in his career so far, as he joined Bundesliga side Schalke 04 on loan. There, he learned a lot in a tactical sense, including how to play as a left-wing-back as part of a back three system.
After that educational year abroad, the Spaniard returned to his home country ready to take the next step in professional football. With Barça set at left-back, the chance to return to Real Betis emerged and he took it. After initially joining his boyhood club on loan, Miranda impressed enough in the 2020/21 season for Los Verdiblancos to sign him on a permanent transfer.
He now has a contract at the Estadio Benito Villamarín until 2024 and is becoming an increasingly important member of the squad, competing with Álex Moreno for minutes at left-back. The future looks bright for Miranda yet, no matter what happens in the rest of his career, his Copa del Rey final penalty has already ensured he’ll forever be a Real Betis legend.- Advertisement -