Emiliano Martínez spoke about the World Cup win, his career ambitions and the controversy surrounding him.
Martínez played an integral part in Argentina’s World Cup final win against France. A big save in the final minutes of extra time while also saving one penalty and the controversy surrounding the shootout, the World Cup winner spoke about it all. In an interview with Florent Torchut of France Football, here is what he had to say:
“I had no intention of hurting anyone. Throughout my career, I have grown up with the French and I never had the slightest problem. You could ask Giroud what kind of a person I am. I really like the French culture and mentality.”
He was also asked about the dancing and the chants regarding Mbappe in the locker room after the win:
“Look, the locker room thing is a locker room thing and should never have came out. When France beat us in 2018, I remember there were chants about Messi.
“Still, if a team beats Brazil, they will sing about Neymar. It’s nothing personal against Mbappe. I respect him enormously. If we sing about him or Neymar, it’s because they are cracks.”
About the doll he held up during the World Cup celebrations which had Mbappe’s face on it:
“People were throwing a lot of dolls at us along the way, they threw us almost a hundred during the tour… At that moment, a doll with Mbappe’s face fell at my feet. I picked it up because it made me laugh, I caught it for two seconds and threw it back. That’s all.
“How could I make fun of Mbappe? He scored four goals! Four goals in the final… He must think I’m his doll! I repeat: I have enormous respect for Mbappe. And I’ll tell you one thing: he’s the best French player I’ve ever seen.
“After the match, I told him that he could be proud of himself and keep his head up because he played a great game and is one of the best players in the world. I also told him that it was a pleasure to play against him, that he almost won the final alone. He’s a kid with immense talent. I realized facing him that he is different. When Leo leaves football, he will win many Ballon d’Ors.”
On the save against Kolo Muani:
“The ball had a weird effect after bouncing and I sensed that I could volley it. I came out diagonally, intentionally leaving him a little space to my left, at my near post. As if to say “put it there”. I pushed him to shoot there. Then, I opened my left arm and my left leg to close the angle for him. It’s something I had worked on, of course.
“Having trained for years with great strikers, it helped me in this play. Immediately after, when the game was over, I said “wah, what a final.” I wasn’t disappointed about the draw, I just thought we had experienced something crazy. I went into the shootout with a lot of confidence.
“The gesture I made with the best goalkeeper trophy was a joke with my team mates. I had done it before at the Copa America and they told me that I wouldn’t dare to do it again. I did it for them, nothing else. It lasted a second and that was it.”
Regarding the dance he made in the shootouts:
“I have nothing done that in my life. It’s part of the adrenaline during the match. I felt that with this second penalty miss, we were not far away from winning. I hadn’t planned anything, it just happened.
“Some people could “ah, what a clown” and it could be that they are right. But if you look at my career, in my career, I only celebrated decisive moments with the national team, very specific moments, not in every match.
“The strikers on the other hand, they could celebrate all the time and some even celebrate their goals in your face. But when a goalkeeper makes a gesture or a dance, it comes as a surprise. Why?”
“My colleagues say I’m out of my mind. Precisely because I do these kinds of things in moments of extreme tension. I play without fear, I don’t care care about anything. Some must be thinking “How can you do this in a World Cup final when it’s your job?” He should be more serious.
“But people who know me know that I’m a nice guy like Lassie, the dog in the series. A quiet guy, who likes to joke around, always cheerful. I don’t think I’m particularly arrogant or humble, but it’s my way of dealing with pressure, calming down and feeling confident.”
About everything after the win:
“After the win, we went to Argentina and it was crazy. It was hard for me to realize, to savor this moment to the full because there were a lot of people, we were tired… Then, when I went back to England, once I was at peace at home, I slept three days in a row for twelve hours. I told my wife “I’m sleeping all the time, but I’m still tired”.
“I finally came to terms with the mental fatigue caused by the World Cup. The tournament, the win, the celebrations: I experienced a shock, a pleasant shock, but a shock. Now I am enjoying it. Seeing all these kids in Argentina imitating me dancing or saying they want to be “like Dibu” is something that really moves me.”
“Maybe I didn’t always make the right decisions by going on loan to clubs I shouldn’t have gone to. Maybe I listened too much to other’s opinions, even when I wasn’t convinced. But it was me who decided to go to Aston Villa. It’s my decision. I knew I would do well there.
“I thought about quitting football a few years ago. I thought maybe it wasn’t for me, because I was very involved, I trained for hours, but I didn’t play. I saw that it wasn’t working. Then, four, five years ago, I started working with a psychologist who helped me not to hit rock bottom.
“And then that’s when I picked myself up. My son was born around that time and I decided not to go on loan anymore. From then, I exploded.”
Regarding his future:
“I would like to win a title with Aston Villa. But it’s complicated… We were eliminated in the FA Cup in January. You should never lose hope. I have the feeling that I have the level to play and try to win the Champions League.”