Jorge Molina made his La Liga debut at the age of 29. Just four years before, aged 25, he made his professional football debut when he lined out for Polideportivo Ejido in Spain’s second division. The Andalusian club has since folded due to financial problems.

It wasn’t the routine path of a professional footballer but Molina eventually made it to the top. Five years spent in the fourth division gave the 6’2 striker the chance to test himself in the game. That spell was followed by three years in Spain’s third division, five in the second division and seven in the top-flight. 

Currently captain of high-flying Getafe, the former Real Betis man scored a double in a 3-0 home win over Valencia in February. Los Azulones battered Albert Celades’ men with rampaging bull Molina leading the charge. He notched his 55th La Liga goal in the convincing win. 50 of those 55 goals have come since turning 30. 

At 36, Molina became the first player to score 10 goals at that age in La Liga in 50 years. The last player to achieve the feat was Ferenc Puskás, when he scored 20 for Real Madrid in the 1963-64 season.

It’s clear that Molina comes from a time of pre-modern day football. He has two university degrees and you won’t find any tattoos. So how has the traditional centre forward maintained his fitness and form at the age of 38? 

“I look after myself more than ever. I follow a strict diet that I’ve prepared myself. I train a lot and I rest well. I enjoy and value every training session and every game now. I’ve also been fortunate with injuries. In a 20-year career, I’ve never suffered a muscular injury,” he told Marca.

Real Betis captain Joaquín Sánchez, Athletic Club striker Aritz Aduriz and Espanyol goalkeeper Diego López are the only Primera División players older than Molina, who turned 38 in April. 

Getafe liked what they saw and brought the then 34-year-old Molina in on a two-year contract from Real Betis in 2016, just as the fortunes of the south Madrid club were about to change under José Bordalás. Molina had already experienced two promotions with Real Betis. In 2010-11 and in 2014-15, he helped guide the club back to Primera. 

Life at Getafe started well and took off in a way he could never have imagined in his wildest dreams. José Bordalás, also from Alicante, began a revival. The two men from the Valencia community worked their magic to bring Getafe back to the big time.

Following an eighth-place finish in their first season back in La Liga, they finished fifth in 2018-19, their best-ever finish. On the final day of the season in May 2019, they narrowly missed out on qualification for the Champions League. Molina notched 14 league goals, his highest tally in a La Liga season. 

This season, Geta sit joint-fourth in the table and knocked Ajax out of the Europa League over two legs to set up a mouthwatering clash with Italian giants Inter. “What we’re doing this season is incredible. Competing at the top of the league and knocking Ajax out of Europe,” Molina said.

Aging like a good wine, the Alicantino is in the twilight of his career. He has spent time in quarantine focusing on maintaining his fitness levels and is hoping there will be a return to action sooner rather than later. 

My wish is for us to finish the La Liga season and also the Europa League. This will be the sign that society has returned to normality. I can’t say what is going to happen but a return to European action to beat Inter is what I’m hoping for. Society is definitely going to change. It’s difficult to know if we’ll ever have full stadiums again. I’m looking forward to returning to training to be with my teammates again and to prepare for our next match. Football is my life.”

Kieran Quaile