EMILIANO MARTINEZ has been preparing for tomorrow’s FA Cup final for most of his life.

And now that his chance has finally arrived he can’t help but remember the sacrifices his family made to help him achieve his dream.


#tb❤#emiratesstadium @arsenal #secondhome

A post shared byEmiliano Martinez (@emi_martinez26) on

It was ten years ago that a reluctant Martinez left his home in Argentina to sign for Arsenal and in spite of making just 36 appearances for the club since then he is now their longest-serving player.

ARSENAL NEWS LIVE: Follow for the latest Gunners news

He recalls: “My mum Susana and my brother Alejandro were crying when I was leaving for London and saying ‘Please don’t go’.

“But I had also seen my dad Alberto crying late at night because he couldn’t afford to pay the bills.

“I remembered the days that me and my brother ate and not my parents, so I knew exactly what they were going through.

“At that time I was living in Buenos Aires and playing for Independiente and I would only see my family twice a month because they couldn’t afford the petrol to drive from their home in Mar Del Plata.

“So when Arsenal offered to buy me, I had to be brave. I was 17-years-old and I said ‘yes’ for my parents.

“I haven’t seen my mum and dad for a year because of lockdown but at least we can now afford to pay the bills so they can watch me playing in the final on TV.

“We came from a poor, poor family and for them to see me winning a trophy and getting a medal would be something special.

“When I made my Champions League debut against Anderlecht in 2014, my dad travelled 21 hours to come and see me.

“He got a bus for six hours to the airport, flew 13 hours to London and then took another flight to Belgium.

“He got there just in time for kick-off and spent the entire 90 minutes crying because he was proud.”

Yet life has been far from plain sailing for Martinez, 27, since joining Arsenal for £1.1million back in 2010.

He has been loaned out to Oxford, Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham, Wolves, Getafe and Reading without ever establishing himself as a first team regular.

And for most of his time at the Emirates he has been playing back-up to Bernd Leno, Petr Cech, David Ospina, Wojciech Szczesny, Lukasz Fabianski, Vito Mannone and Manuel Almunia.

Yet he steadfastly refused to give up on his Arsenal ambitions and his patience was finally rewarded last month.

My dad cried for 90 minutes because he was so proud.

His opportunity to shine only came about as a result of the knee injury which Leno suffered at Brighton during Arsenal’s second game out of lockdown.

But he has kept goal so impressively in Arsenal’s last 11 games that there are now questions as to whether Leno will still be the club’s automatic number one when he returns to action next season.

Martinez admits: “I’ve had to deal with a lot of frustration and a lack of game-time, but I always believed that I could do it here and now I have.

“My wife was saying to me during lockdown ‘you’re the second-choice goalkeeper, why do you train so much?’

“I was doing proper goalkeeping training at home with weights, a bike and a mini-gym.

“I’ve also got a full-size goal in my garden and my wife used to throw the balls at me but she was terrible.


Family time ❤️ #longwalk @mandinha_martinez_

A post shared byEmiliano Martinez (@emi_martinez26) on

“So now I have a ball launcher that fires shots at you in all different directions and my two-year-old son tries to load the balls for me.

“Normally when a goalkeeper resumes training you get bruised bones if you haven’t been diving or hitting the ground for a long time.

“But as soon as we returned to action I was feeling great of all the work I’d put in.

“So when Bernd was injured at Brighton I was ready to step straight into the team and able to make a lot of saves.”

Martinez, 27, still has two years to run on his Arsenal contract but does not relish the prospect of returning to the subs’ bench next season.

“Nobody wants to be a second goalkeeper, especially if you believe in yourself as much as I do,” he says.

“I had offers to leave last summer but I always put Arsenal first and I wasn’t going to go out on loan any more.

“I spoke with Unai Emery and with the goalkeeping coach and they both told me I could be the number one here.

“And when David Ospina left that opened the door for me to stay.

“My agent called me the other day and said ‘what do you think about next season?’

“But I don’t want to talk about that. I have a cup final to play and I need to go into the game with a clear mind.

“Let me win the trophy and after that you can ask me about my future.”

Source: Read Full Article