Tuesday, 13 July 2021

The journey of an Arsenal loanee who became the 2021 Copa America star

By db-admin

DBasia.news – The career journey of the Argentine goalkeeper, Emiliano Martinez as a professional footballer has not been smooth, full of twists and turns. His career was at a low point but he did not give up and his career revival can now make him become a role model for young footballers.

If asked nine years ago no one would have expected Emiliano Martinez to be the main goalkeeper of the Argentine national team. The situation he is currently experiencing is completely different from his time with Arsenal.

In mid-June 2020 when Bernd Leno was injured after the league restarted after the corona virus break at Arsenal, Mikel Arteta immediately made Martinez the main goalkeeper and the opportunity was not wasted.

In mid-July Squawka put out data that Martinez had the best save percentage in the Premier League this season. The only goalkeeper with saves above 80%.

Even against Liverpool when Arsenal won 2-1 Martinez made eight saves. That’s the most records for Arsenal goalkeepers since the start of the 2016-17 season. All of that shows that Martinez is making good use of the moment he has.

If you look at Emiliano Martinez’s long journey with Arsenal, what he has achieved so far is great. Martinez eventually became Arsenal’s main goalkeeper when he previously lost to Wojciech Szczesny, Petr Cech and Bernd Leno.

Moreover, Martinez’s hopes of competing in the Arsenal first team are almost non-existent after serving six loan spells at Oxford United, Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham United, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Getafe, and Reading.

However, Martinez did not give up easily. Together with his family, his wife (Mandinha) and son (Sandi) Martinez worked hard in the midst of the lockdown during the league break.

“My wife said to me during the lockdown, ‘Why do you train so much?’ I thought I might have the chance, I might have it, and look, I have it,” Martinez said.

“I had a full size goal in my garden. As soon as it happened the fitness coach sent us a program. It’s something I’ve been doing since the lockdown so when I came back with the team I felt really great.”

“I have a ball launcher, someone has to give me the ball. My wife used to throw the ball but she was terrible.”

“I was playing with my son, he also tried to put the ball in the ball launcher. It was hard, I was exhausted at nine in the morning!”

The Hard Work and Patience of Emiliano Martinez

For eight years defending Arsenal since moving from the Independiente Martinez academy, he has not won a prestigious trophy. Martinez only presented the Community Shield award in 2014 and 2015. No doubt he was thrilled when he became Arsenal’s main goalkeeper.

Understandably, Martinez told me that he was not a wealthy person and was born in a family with a mediocre economy. Making the decision to move at such a young age was not easy, let alone leaving a struggling family, but Martinez followed his heart.

“In my mind, there is no way I would leave my family. It’s not a bad background, but my family is struggling a lot financially,” Martinez said.

“When my agent called with an offer to join Arsenal, I saw my brother and mother crying, saying, ‘Please don’t go’. But I also saw my father crying late at night because he couldn’t pay the bills.

“I had to be brave in that moment, because I said ‘yes’ to them. I remember the day my sister and I ate, and not my mom and dad. I know exactly what they’ve been through.”

“I live in Buenos Aires and I will only see them twice a month, when I travel, because they can’t afford gas to go and see me play. I know what they did for me to get to the top,” Martinez stated.

The achievements, hard work and hopes of Emiliano Martinez paid off. In the 2019-2020 FA Cup final Arsenal won 2-1 against Chelsea and Martinez couldn’t hold back tears.

“As soon as I won, I wanted to celebrate with my son and wife, that’s the circle of life. But yes, I wish my whole family was there,” said Emiliano Martinez before the match against Chelsea.

“We come from a poor family and for them to see me win a trophy in front of 90,000 people and get a medal would be something. I wish the fans were there, it would be a different final but I have worked my whole life for this.”

The cry became an expression of Emiliano Martinez who waited patiently for eight years to become

Arsenal’s main goalkeeper.

“For years I waited. I thought ‘why don’t they believe me?’ I thought that opportunity would never come,” Martinez added.

“I finally became a number one goalkeeper and I was ready for it. It took 10 years to get there. You train as a goalkeeper every day, but nothing prepares you for the story of your life.”

“Nobody trains you to be frustrated, nobody trains you to cry. What if you don’t play for four months? Are you going to keep going or are you going to die mentally?”

“I could have done a lot more over the years, but eventually the world started to see what I was capable of. I finished high and that’s how I always wanted to go.”

Leaving Arsenal to Become a Hero of the Argentine National Team

Despite being Arsenal’s main goalkeeper, Martinez still left for Aston Villa in 2020 for a fee of 20 millionpounds. He insisted in leaving believing a move to Villa was an improvement over his Arsenal career.

Mikel Arteta still believes in Bernd Leno at Arsenal and leaving was Martinez’s best decision. At Villa his position is unwavering as the main goalkeeper who plays regularly in the Premier League.

While team-mates such as Jack Grealish and Tyrone Mings achieved success in the Euro 2020 final with England, Martinez did what Sergio Romero had previously been unable to do as Argentina’s goalkeeper.

At the age of 28 Martinez took Argentina to the 2021 Copa America final, making three saves in the shootout against Colombia in the semifinals.

“I can’t say anything. They (Colombia) took us to penalties and it was a matter of luck, today it was my turn to win,” continued Martinez.

“All those hard times, what I suffered, seeing my dad cry because we couldn’t pay the bills, that’s all I know.”

“I couldn’t let my family suffer like that for the rest of their lives. So when I look back now, it’s a beautiful thing.”

Argentine captain and superstar Lionel Messi did not even doubt Martinez when the shootout took place.

“The penalty shoot-out was total luck, but we knew Emiliano would stop at least two. He deserved it, he is a goalkeeper monster,” Messi said.

Although Martinez’s status is no longer a loan player, but the main goalkeeper for Villa and Argentina, he is still maintaining his humility. Three months earlier (April 2021) Martinez spoke about Messi who turned out to be a prayer and a wish come true.

“The World Cup is the only thing missing in Leo’s career. He’s the one who won the most in the world. Everyone wants him to win it, just because he is Lionel,” Martinez said hopefully.

“For me, it would be a pleasure and an honor to win something with him on the pitch. It would be great for us to play with Leo.”

“If Argentina won the World Cup or the Copa America, I would be happier for Messi than for myself.”

Martinez’s prayer came true. Argentina won the 2021 Copa America by beating rivals Brazil 1-0 in the final. Messi and Martinez played as one team and La Pulga ended their title wait with the national team after reaching four major tournament finals.

How your reaction for this article?