AFC Totton AFC Totton Pitching In - Partners with Southern Football League

Joan LUQUE PRADOS_AFC Totton_New Signing_Feb2024.jpg

MATCHGOING FANS HAVE already had three good looks at  AFC Totton’s Spanish loan signing from National League South club, Worthing.

Joan Luque Prados has made an impressive start to life as a Stag, scoring his first goal for the club at Hendon, when he also assisted for the other two in a 3-3 draw, and then bagging two more in his Man of the Match display during last weekend’s 2-2 draw at Swindon Supermarine.

Upon his arrival at the Snows Stadium, the ex-FC Barcelona youth player went straight into the starting line-up for the visit of promotion-chasing Gosport Borough, and it’s no wonder that Jimmy Ball rates the National League South’s 2021/22 Player of the Year so highly.

Joan Luque Prados-1_AFC Totton vs Gosport Borough_SLPDS-26_Sat27Jan2024_CHP.jpg

Born and raised in the Catalan capital, Luque was among the youth ranks that trained at the ground next to the Nou Camp Stadium, rather than at their famous training camp, La Masia. He joined the club at the age of 11, and went on to play for a number of small clubs in the Barcelona, Ibiza and Mallorca regions, before moving to the UK.

In July 2017, he was one of 21 players from Spain, Andorra and Argentina who trained with Heybridge Swifts, as part of an initiative set up by Swifts player Guillem Ramón. After signing for Heybridge, Luque combined work as a waiter with playing non-league football, going on to score 30 goals in the 2017/18 season, including 17 in the league, operating primarily as a winger who can play on either flank.

Such impressive stats were bound to catch the eye of an EFL club and, after a successful trial, he signed for Lincoln City. He only played two games for The Imps, though; his debut came as a late substitute in a League Two win over Notts County, and he scored his only goal for the club during a 1-4 defeat to Blackburn Rovers in the EFL Cup.

Luque had a short loan at Bromley in 2018, before spells at Concord Rangers, Dagenham & Redbridge, Maidstone United and Weymouth, before he returned to Maidstone in June 2021.

Joan Luque Prados-4_AFC Totton vs Gosport Borough_SLPDS-26_Sat27Jan2024.jpg

He contributed 20 goals for The Stones, on their way to winning the National League South title, when he was subsequently honoured with the division’s Player of the Year accolade.

However, an ACL injury sustained in April 2022 put him out for the entire 2022/23 season, and he was eventually released by new manager George Elokobi in the summer of 2023.

He signed for Worthing and made 24 appearances for The Rebels during the first half of the current season, scoring four goals, before agreeing to join The Stags’ push for a promotion Play-Off spot in the Southern League Premier Division South.

“It is a long way back from the kind of injury I had, but I feel the work I have already done has brought me back to close to full-fitness, and now I need the opportunity to get minutes under my belt and to show everyone what I can still do,” commented the 31-year-old that some Stags fans have already christened El Matador.

Jimmy Ball admitted that he jumped at the chance to sign the player when the deal became a possibility:

“The deal came about all of a sudden, really. I knew of Luque by reputation, and was aware of the qualities he possesses as a player. So, it was a bit of a no-brainer - you don’t pass up the chance to sign players of his quality if you are in a position to get the deal done. He’s started very well for us, and I hope that fine form continues and he can help us to win football matches.”

By Ben Rochey-Adams

Images courtesy of Craig Hobbs Photography

Get your logo here