Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez has revealed he did not want to join Arsenal from Independiente back in 2010.
Martinez has had to be patient to make his breakthrough in English football, but it has been worth the wait. He joined Arsenal’s youth ranks as a teenager, becoming a member of the senior squad after two years. However, opportunities were limited for him.
He endured loan spells with six different clubs before returning to Arsenal for the 2019-20 season. Towards the end of the campaign, he finally got his chance, deputising capably for the injured Bernd Leno.
But after Leno recovered, Arsenal chose to keep him as their number one and sell Martinez. Eager to find a club where he would play regularly, in the hope of becoming Argentina’s number one, Martinez joined Aston Villa.
The move has paid off for him, as he has achieved his ambitions at international level after a solid debut season with Villa. Martinez made his Argentina bow in June and has made nine caps, helping his country to win the Copa America.
Following the international break – and a period of isolation – he will be back in England to continue his progress with Villa. But he has now revealed that he never wanted to leave Argentina for Arsenal in the first place.
Instead, others persuaded him to make the move, despite his hopes of making it with Independiente.
“Arsenal came to look for me and Pepe Santoro [his coach in Independiente’s youth team] told me that the train only passes once in a lifetime. My family and my agents thought the same,” Martinez told El Pais (via Sport Witness).
“So, the decision was more for them [family] than anything else. I didn’t want to go. I did not regret it, but I wanted to play in Independiente. For a while I thought: ‘If I stayed, in two years I will make my debut [with the first team]’.
“We [his family] lacked a little financially. I did it more for that than for sports [sporting reasons]. I knew I could get to Independiente’s first team. The club trusted the youth team goalkeepers.”
Martinez reflects on Arsenal experiences
Once he arrived in England, Martinez had to adapt quickly after receiving instructions from Arsene Wenger.
“I did not know the language. And Wenger told me that the goalkeeper had to speak in English,” he explained.
“When something gets into my head, I do it. In a year I learned to speak English and I even got my driver’s license.”
After that, Martinez had to work his way into senior football via various loan spells – which had varying success.
“I went from loan to loan, went through six different loans before I was established,” he reflected.
“I went through Spain and the Championship. Very good experiences in the second division in England, but very bad in Getafe. It was the lowest point of my career.”