Surely, at the start of the season, there were times when Juanfran was beating himself up over having left Osasuna a year and a half ago to join Atleti.
The winger had gone from being a crucial member of the Rojillo side, to ending up as a bench warmer at Atlético.
After some early opportunities handed to him by former Atlético coach Quique Sánchez Flores following Simão’s hasty exit to Turkey, the winger failed to land a regular place in the starting line-up, a predicament that continued on into earlier in this campaign under Gregorio Manzano.
When the Real Madrid youth product was given a chance late in games as a substitute, he looked tense, nervous and utterly lost, quickly becoming the butt of many a Colchonero joke.
But Sílvio’s persistent injury woes and Luis Amaranto Perea’s struggles at right-back opened the door for the 27-year-old to shine elsewhere.
Regularly credited as being a key member of a resurgent Atlético that has dominated in European play, the midfielder-turned-full back is now on the cusp of starring in a Europa League final and has earned the respect of an entire continent.
“Ever since I started playing as a full back, things have gone better for me,” Juanfran recently told Spanish radio station Onda Cero.
“I’ve been an important player for ‘El Cholo’ and that trust he has placed in me has changed my life because before I was going by unnoticed at Atlético Madrid and I had come here to triumph. I want all Atléticos to remember me for a long time, or for the rest of their lives.”
He continued: “I want to be here for many years. In my mind, I only think about staying. I want my son to see me play and triumph here. I’m very close with Antonio López, I have tremendous respect for him.
“I see what he represents as a captain, what he represents for the fans, for our team-mates and it’s also a goal of mine. I wanted to play for a big club and that’s what I am doing now, and to be on la Selección, and it’s a possibility for the future.
“To be captain of this team and represent so many captains that have passed through here is a goal of mine as well.”