Joaquín made his debut for the Spain national team on 13 February 2002 against Portugal, in a 1–1 friendly played in Barcelona. Brilliant club form for Betis saw him get called up for that year’s FIFA World Cup, where he appeared twice: in his second match, the quarter-finals against co-hosts South Korea, he was involved in a couple of debatable decisions, including one incident where the linesman raised his flag for a goal kick as Joaquín was crossing a ball to Fernando Morientes, who was denied a golden goal – the argument was that the ball had crossed the line. However, replays showed that it did not; the game then went to penalties, and he was chosen to take Spain’s fourth attempt – despite carrying an injury – which was blocked by Lee Woon-jae. Joaquín played again for Spain through the nation’s premature exit at UEFA Euro 2004, also being selected for the 2006 World Cup. He totalled five appearances, but was not first-choice at either competition, only starting twice overall. During the early stages of the Euro 2008 qualification campaign, Spain lost 2–3 against Northern Ireland. After the match, Joaquín told in a Spanish radio interview: “Right now, the national team is a mess, chaos and Luis doesn’t know how to handle it in these difficult moments. I know that what I’m saying is not going to help me get back into the national team, but it’s what I feel.” He later commented, “The only thing I wanted to say is that these are not clear times for the national squad after losing to Northern Ireland …. but it was not my intention to attack the team or Luis Aragonés”; subsequently, he failed to be selected again as the national side went on to record 35 consecutive games without defeat, winning a record 15 consecutive times and lifting the Euro 2008, 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 trophies. Joaquín grew up in a big family, with eight brothers and sisters in total. As the third child, he had two elder brothers. Three of the eight children in this family are or have been engaged in football: besides Joaquín, his elder brother Lucas played for Cádiz CF, and his brother Ricardo also played in Betis’ youth ranks. Growing up, Joaquín wanted to be a bullfighter. Joaquín’s uncle, nicknamed “El Chino”, firmly believed in Joaquín’s talent and paid for his daily round trip between Cádiz and Seville when Joaquín was in Betis’ youth system. El Chino died in 2002, and since then Joaquín has dedicated most of his achievements to him remembered him as his mentor. After the 2005 domestic cup conquest Joaquín married Susana Sabol on 8 July. The trophy was present at the ceremony, as was the entire Betis squad.