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Emiliano Martinez says his next “challenge” is helping Aston Villa to end their 27-year trophy drought, having been a central figure in Argentina closing their own long wait for silverware. The 30-year-old described himself as a “winner” who only ever “gives his all”, as he said one of the proudest aspects of his success is that half of the kids in Argentina now want to be goalkeepers.
Speaking on BT Sport podcast, Mike Calvin’s Football People, Martinez lamented that too many young players go into football for the wrong reasons as he wants to leave a legacy.
“I want to achieve something that no one achieves, or it’s been hard to achieve,” the Villa keeper said. “And obviously, people were saying, after the Copa America after the World Cup, Emi is going to go and play Champions League and he’s going to leave. And I’m thinking, yeah, that’s the easiest part. You know that that’s easy leaving now in January going to a club playing the Champions League and all that.
“It seems everything easy. Actually, it was a real challenge for me. Winning a World Cup for Argentina after 36 years. Yes. Beating the champions of America after 28 years in the Maracana. Yeah, that was a challenge. Winning the Finalissima against the champions of Europe was a challenge. And now we need something for Aston Villa after 30 years? I don’t know how long it was. 40 years? That’s a challenge. You know, that’s a challenge. And that’s something I’m made for – for challenges, for not always having the easy way out. And we’ve got one of the best managers for winning things in Europe. So I’m up for the challenge.”
Martinez reflected on what winning the World Cup meant to him, as he said what touched most was young players wanting to be goalkeepers. The No 1’s saves were crucial throughout the run, while his antics were a huge part of the character of Argentina’s victory, particularly in penalty shootouts.
“I touched the sky like my dad would say. Half of the kids want to be [Lionel] Messi, half of the kids want to be a goalkeeper now. Obviously, that’s a proud moment in my career. I always say that I hate individual awards, you know, now with the FIFA Best [Goalkeeper] award, doesn’t satisfy me. It satisfies me just seeing the young children trying to be a goalkeeper now because they love what they have seen in the World Cup, you know? So whatever happens in my career, from now on, I will always be grateful for the chance I had in the World Cup.
“You need obviously, when you’re young, you need to be driven. I always have objectives in my life, even though when I was such a young age. Now the young kid wants to buy a Range Rover or wants to buy a Louis Vuitton bag rather than thinking, Okay, I want to buy a house for my mum, or a house for my grandmother. And that’s something I always had in my young age, I wanted to be successful for my family, always find a reason why you’re doing it. Obviously, you have to do it for yourself but I think if you find the reason why you’re doing it for who you’re doing it for, I think it will help you to stay on the line in your career.
“I was 24, my mum and dad, secure them financially, I bought them a really nice house for them for my brother. And then when my child was born, I was doing it for them. You know, I always wanted to be on the line for them. Even when I go through the easy ways, I wanted to be through the hard ways and make sure when I retire, I would say you know what, I gave my all. And even if I didn’t make it, if I didn’t win the World Cup, if I’m not playing for a Premier League club, I would say I tried my best.”
Asked whether he was born to be a goalkeeper, Martinez says: “No, I was made. That was me. I wasn’t born to be a goalkeeper. I was born to be a winner.
Because since I was a young, young child, I was born to be a winner and everything. And then I was made a goalkeeper. I made myself mentally strong, I made myself play out from the back. And because I was playing football at a young age, playing Futsal, so I ticked all the boxes at such a young age. But now I see my boys only four [years old] and they are so competitive, I can see why I’ve been successful because I was exactly the same as that, as my boy.”
Martinez also said that a series of loan moves during his early period in England also helped him reach the top, honing him as a player.
“That’s when I say to you that I was made, not born. I made myself through the bad moments, through bad loans, good loans, injuries I had from my young career helped me today, they’ve been tweaked for the last 10 years because I learned how to look after myself, I learned how to be in a bad place and say, ‘No, I don’t want to be here anymore and I want to be somewhere else’ and working myself mentally finding a psychology that helped me to not go back to that place. And so that’s when I say to you that I was made.”
Listen to the Emiliano Martinez interview in full in the latest edition of BT Sport podcast, ‘Michael Calvin’s Football People’ – out today (2 March) across major podcast platforms. Every Thursday, award-winning journalist and author Michael Calvin interviews players, managers, owners, referees and more, providing unique insights into the game: btsport.com/pods