José Ramón Esnaola
Esnaola working with Betis
|Full name||José Ramón Esnaola Laburu|
|Date of birth||30 June 1946|
|Place of birth||Andoain, Spain|
|Height||1.76 m (5 ft 9 in)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
He spent 40 years at the service of Betis, working with the club in various capacities.
During his career, Esnaola played for Real Sociedad and Real Betis, with 16 of his 20 professional seasons being spent in La Liga. In that level, he appeared in 166 league matches with the first club and 303 with the second, for which he signed in 1973 for 12 million pesetas as the club was in Segunda División; with the former, he started initially as backup to Adolfo Arriaga, but won first-choice status as he became severely ill after shattering his pancreas during a game against UP Langreo.
In Esnaola's first year, the Andalusians returned to the top division as champions, and with the best defensive record in the competition. In the 1977 final of the Copa del Rey, against another Basque side, Athletic Bilbao, he conquered his only piece of silverware in an epic final: 2–2 after regulation and 8–7 in the penalty shootout, where he stopped three shots and scored the winner, beating counterpart José Ángel Iribar; Betis were relegated at the end of the following campaign.
Esnaola retired in 1985, at the age of 39. He then managed Betis in two brief spells, the first in 1990–91 which finished in top flight relegation. In 2007 he returned to the club, now as goalkeepers' coach, retiring altogether six years later; he was never a Spanish international, only receiving one callup whilst at Real Sociedad.
- "En San Sebastián dicen que Esnaola ha sido traspasdo al Betis" [Word in San Sebastián is that Esnaola has been transferred to Betis]. ABC (in Spanish). 18 July 1973. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
- "El guardameta de la Real Sociedad, en grave estado" [Real Sociedad goalkeeper, in serious condition]. ABC (in Spanish). 23 September 1965. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
- "2–2: Los andaluces remontaron dos ventajas vascas" [2–2: The Andalusians countered Basques' advantage twice]. Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish). 26 June 1977. Retrieved 5 February 2016.
- "Iriondo: Siento una gran alegria y... un poco de pena" [Iriondo: I am extremely happy and... a little sorry]. Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish). 26 June 1977. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
- "1–0: El Real Betis, a Segunda" [1–0: Real Betis, to Segunda]. Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish). 8 May 1978. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
- "Esnaola anuncia su jubilación tras 40 años en el Betis" [Esnaola announces retirement after 40 years in Betis]. Marca (in Spanish). 21 May 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2016.