Argentina’s run into the FIFA World cup 2022 final seems as if it was written in the stars and one day or another we were going to see Lionel Messi once again the Final after failing to capitalize in 2014. In 2014, everything was depending upon Messi’s performance and form and this time Messi is still important but not for everything.
He has a hard working, determined and supportive group around him who have eased the pressure off him for a bit. One of them is their goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, whose career went from being a Fringe/Outcast to a National hero. His journey so far has been a roller coaster ride and before he plays the most important match in his footballing career, let’s talk about how he evolved into Argentina’s number 1.
Emi Martínez’s incredible journey from English football’s fourth tier to the World Cup final 🙏 [THREAD] pic.twitter.com/zLGbve14iF
— B/R Football (@brfootball) December 16, 2022
Emiliano Martinez’s path began in 2008 with joining Argentine outfit Independiente’s youth club. In 2010, on the occasion of his 17th birthday English Premier League club Arsenal offered the teenager a youth contract to begin with. He was mainly an understudy for Arsenal at that time and went on to remain at London for 10 years playing only 15 games.
Exclusive: Arsene Wenger pays tribute to Emiliano Martinez and the "big passion" which has carried him to a World Cup final. And the inside story of Martinez's humble beginnings in Argentina to becoming his country's No1 https://t.co/iCVqgqnKMn
— John Cross (@johncrossmirror) December 15, 2022
2 years at the youth Side and the next 8 years with the senior side, Martinez only made 15 top flight appearances. Yes you read that right. Just imagine how tough it would have been for him to be at one of the most reputed clubs in England and go out on loan to lower division clubs every other year.
Loan Moves and International Career
His first Loan move came in 2012 when he got transferred to Oxford United. He made only one appearance for Oxford before coming back to the Emirates Stadium. On 26 September, Martinez made his senior debut for Arsenal in a 6-1 win against Coventry City in Carabao Cup.
However, after playing another game for Arsenal, Martinez was sent to Shefield Wednesday on 28-day emergency loan. He returned at his parent club again before moving to Rotherham United (2015), Wolves (2015-16), Getafe (2017-18) and Reading (2019).
The Breakthrough season for Emiliano Martinez came in 2020 after Arsenal’s number 1 choice Bernd Leno got injured. He came on as a substitute against Brighton to appear in the Premier League for the first time in 3 years. Although he moved from clubs to clubs, it did benefit him to some extent.
He performed brilliantly when he got the ultimate chance. His commanding performance saw him start against Chelsea in the 2020 FA Cup Final and made some very crucial saves to help Arsenal win a record 14th FA Cup title. Former Gunners legend Ian Wright even described him as a commanding and attack minded goalkeeper seeing his stellar performances.
You mean the same man that broke down in tears when winning the FA Cup with Arsenal? pic.twitter.com/dAIDuD7pyt
— Hiten. (@HitenPatel13) December 10, 2022
The 30-year-old was also named in the starting 11 against Liverpool in the Community shield and helped the Gunners win the match on penalties. After that much, reports broke out that Martinez is set to leave the club after Bernd Leno’s comeback from injury.
In his own words he stated that he will either be the first choice keeper or leave the North London outfit on a permanent basis. He did not have any shortage of suitors either as Aston Villa and Brighton wanted to sign him before Villa brought him in for 17 Million Euros.
In his very first season, Martinez used all his experience to help Aston Villa. He kept 15 clean sheets in 2020-21 season and equaled Brad Friedel’s record of 15 matches without conceding a goal. After initially signing a three-year deal, Martinez extended his stay at Villa Park for 3 more years and his current contract runs until the end of 2026-27 season.
His reputation at the club has increased after a number of influential performances and was named as one of the vice-captains of the club. In terms of his International career with Argentina, Martinez received his first Argentina call up 8 years before receiving the second one. On both occasions though, he remained on the bench.
Lionel Messi and Emiliano Martinez 🇦🇷💙 pic.twitter.com/9oTtmnNjlf
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) December 9, 2022
On June 2021, the Aston Villa keeper made his International debut against Chile in a World cup qualification match. His debut for La Albiceleste came during last year’s Copa America against Chile in a 1-1 draw. He became the number 1 choice for Lionel Scaloni and Martinez played every game including the Final.
Emiliano Martinez's international record is insane 😤 pic.twitter.com/0uRZauKZw7
— GOAL (@goal) December 16, 2022
He ended the Copa America as the Golden Glove winner for his antics throughout the tournament, which also included a Penalty shootout against Colombia in the Semi-finals. What a Journey. Emi Martinez was the man between the posts when Lionel Messi won his first trophy with Argentina.
Martinez is also one of the reasons why Argentina are in the Final of the WC after a wait of 8 years. He has kept 3 clean sheets in the tournament so far. He also made some outstanding saves in the Penalty shootout against Netherlands in the Quarter finals.
Emiliano Martinez’s two saves inspire Argentina 🇦🇷 into the semifinals. Massive performance. pic.twitter.com/WM7dqRookh
— FC Barcelona Fans Nation (@fcbfn_live) December 9, 2022
However, his best performance came against Australia in the round of 16 when Martinez saved a last minute effort from an Australian attack. Now with Argentina in the Final against defending champions France, Emiliano Martinez will play the most important match of his career.
Since he arrived as the number one choice, Argentina have won 2 trophies – Copa America and the Finalissima. Can he deliver a 3rd and most important trophy for the nation?