If the “Earning Your Stripes” phrase fits someone perfectly, then that person is Emiliano Martinez. Emi has worked hard for his success, he has worked his way from the bottom to the higher echelons of the football chain.
The success and fame that Martinez enjoys right now are the result of all his hard work. He has gone from being a prodigy to earning his wages in the lower division of English football to winning the World Cup, Emiliano Martinez’s football cycle has come full circle.
From having difficulty adjusting to life in England to going on and playing with the greatest player of all time Lionel Messi, Martinez has also achieved varying levels of success. Apart from being a huge hit for the Argentine National Team, Emi has been immense for Aston Villa through the years.
Let’s go through Emiliano Martinez’s career and see his achievements and how he went from being a fringe player to a World-class goalkeeper for Argentina.
Independiente – Prodigy detected
Emiliano Martinez was born on 2nd September 1992. He was playing for Independientes and Argentina’s youth sides when he attracted the attention of Arsenal. Before even making a senior appearance for Independiente, Martinez was asked to come to London and do a tryout.
After going through tryouts, Arsenal were impressed enough to sign the promising Argentine. Arsenal coughed up £1.1m for a 16-year-old, that is how much the Gunners were impressed by him.
Emiliano Martinez made the move to Arsenal.
Arsenal – Struggling to Find a Permanent Spot and Various Loan Moves
2012-2014 – Finding His Feet
Emiliano Martinez moved to Arsenal in July 2010 and then played for their youth sides for two years, eventually impressing Arsene Wenger. Emi was sent on an emergency loan to Oxford United where he made his first senior appearance in football.
He managed to keep a clean sheet against Port Vale in his only senior appearance for Oxford United.
Martinez’s progress was gradual and he started making big strides, Wenger put Emi on the bench for games against Stoke and Liverpool in the Premier League. He was a backup keeper after injuries to Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianksi.
26th September 2012, was the day Emiliano Martinez finally made his debut for Arsenal’s senior side. Martinez started his first game for Arsenal against Coventry City in the League Cup. Arsenal won the game 6-1, Emi was back in the starting line-up for 2nd time in the following round of the League Cup when Arsenal won a crazy game 7-5.
Martinez would have gotten further chances in the League Cup but he again went on an emergency loan, this time to Sheffield Wednesday. He eventually extended his loan move till the end of the season after impressing the Owl’s management.
2014/15 – Big Season
Emi returned to Arsenal and he was straight away put on the bench in the Community Shield game against Manchester City. Martinez started his first Champions League game that season and also his Champions League debut against Anderlecht, in a 2-1 win for Arsenal.
If that wasn’t enough, Emiliano Martinez made his Premier League debut on 22nd November 2014 when he came on as a substitute against Manchester United for the injured Wojciech Szczesny at the Emirates Stadium.
Martinez started his second Champions League game in the same campaign, this time against Borussia Dortmund and this time keeping a clean sheet in a 2-0 win. Emi even made the UEFA Team of the Week after his performance against Dortmund.
His first Premier League start came against West Brom and his second start followed four days later against Southampton. He kept clean sheets in both matches as Arsenal won both games 1-0.
After impressive performances, Martinez was then sent to Rotherham United for the remainder of the season to get regular playtime.
2015-2019 – Going Back to Becoming a Fringe Member
Arsenal signed Petr Cech before the 2015/16 season, Cech, considered one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, was a tough mountain to climb and Martinez saw his minutes get depleted even more.
Martinez was sent on loan to Wolverhampton Wanderers for the 2015/16 campaign where he played 15 games and performed well before a thigh injury cut his season short. He was sent back to Arsenal.
Arsenal kept Martinez around for the 2016/17 campaign and he did feature in two Premier League games against Crystal Palace and West Ham United. He made just 5 total appearances that season.
For the 2017/18 campaign, he went on loan to Getafe where he was unable to land the starting spot, Arsenal recalled him in January and sent him to Reading Football Club. At Reading, Martinez showed his qualities and he became a fan favourite there, even winning the Man of the Match award against Bolton.
2019-2020 – Breakthrough
After Bernd Leno, Arsenal first choice keeper, was stretchered off injured against Brighton and Hove Albion on June 20th, 2020, Martinez replaced him during the game. He then went on to play the full season as Arsenal’s no.1.
Martinez’s Coup de Grâce moment came against Chelsea in the FA Cup final. He was selected for the Cup final and produced numerous brilliant saves as Arsenal went on to win the FA Cup. Martinez broke down after the match as Arsenal lifted the FA Cup trophy.
Emiliano Martinez started next season’s curtain raiser event – Community Shield against Liverpool, Arsenal won the match on penalties.
Arsenal were still not convinced Martinez was the keeper for them long-term. Emi gave the ultimatum to Arsenal, either make him their first-choice keeper or sell him.
Honours at Arsenal:
- FA Cup: 2019-2020
- FA Community Shield: 2014, 2015, 2020
Emiliano Martinez’s Record at Arsenal
Aston Villa – Career Takes Off
After being linked to numerous clubs, Emiliano Martinez moved to Aston Villa for a fee of £20m. He was an instant hit at Villa, saving a penalty in his debut match and keeping a clean sheet against Sheffield United as Aston Villa ran out 1-0 winners.
Emiliano Martinez was named Fans Player of the Year award in his first season at the club. He also matched Brad Friedel’s record of keeping 15 clean sheets in a single campaign. Martinez did all of this in his first season.
Martinez currently earns £120,000 per week at Aston Villa. His annual income stands at £6,240,000. Emi has just extended his contract at Villa with his current deal expiring in the summer of 2027. So, his contract currently stands at 4 years/£24.96m. There is no release clause in his contract.
Emiliano Martinez has made over 100 appearances for Aston Villa and he is contracted to them till the 2026/27 season. He continues to be an integral part of Unai Emery’s squad and is determined to win trophies with the club that showed the utmost faith in him.
Emiliano Martinez’s Record at Aston Villa
Becoming the first choice Argentina Goalkeeper – Achieving the Pinnacle in Football and Winning the World Cup
Emiliano Martinez’s ascendance to being Argentina’s goalkeeper at the same time when he joined Aston Villa. He made his international debut against Chile for the 2022 World Cup Qualification game and then made his major tournament debut when he faced the same opponents in the 2021 Copa America.
Emi Martinez also managed to keep a clean sheet against Italy when Argentina faced them in the 2022 Finalissima. Italy took part as the current Euros Champions and Argentina took part as they were the current Copa America holders. Argentina beat Italy 3-0 and won the CONMEBOL UEFA Confederations Cup 2022.
He saved a spot-kick against Chile but failed to stop the rebound, Martinez also made three stops in a penalty shoot-out win over Colombia in the semi-final. He also managed a clean sheet against Brazil in the final of the tournament as Argentina ran out 1-0 winners to win the Copa America, Martinez’s first International trophy.
Emi was also awarded the Golden Glove award for being the best Goalkeeper in the tournament.
‘We have Emi, who is a phenomenon,’ were the words from Messi towards Emiliano Martinez. Martinez was as responsible for winning the World Cup for La Albiceleste as Messi. His influence was immense throughout the competition.
Martinez kept 3 clean sheets in the tournament. But that was not his most significant contribution. It was the saves he made throughout the tournament that was remarkable.
Argentina’s match against Netherlands in the Quarter-final went to penalties, Martinez saved two penalties in the shoot-out to help Argentina advance to the Semi-final.
Emiliano Martinez’s save of his career and also one of the best saves in World Cup history came in the final of the tournament. Argentina and France had traded blows and the game was tied 3-3.
The game had got into extra time and the extra time was about to end as well, with seconds remaining, Konate lobbed the whole Argentina defence and put Randal Kolo Muani through on goal.
Muani had just Martinez to beat, the World Cup was on the line if the goal goes in – France wins the World Cup, but Emiliano Martinez spread his legs and made himself huge while narrowing down the angle, the shot was saved and the game went to penalties.
It was the most important save of Martinez’s career. If the shot had gone in Argentina would’ve lost the World Cup as it was the last kick of the game. Martinez was able to stop Kingsley Coman’s penalty in the penalty shoot-out as Argentina went on to win the World Cup 4-2 on penalties.
Emi Martinez was awarded the Golden Glove for being the best keeper in the tournament, an award thoroughly deserved as his moment of quality led his country to their 3rd World Cup.
All in all Emiliano Martinez’s international career is phenomenal, he has been able to keep 21 clean sheets in just 30 games for La Albiceleste. That is an incredible and remarkable stat for a goalkeeper who broke into the national just a couple of years back.
Honours with Argentina
- FIFA World Cup – 2022
- COPA America – 2021
- CONMEBOL UEFA Cup of Champions – 2022
Emiliano Martinez’s Record with Argentina
2023 Yashin Trophy Winner
At the 2023 Ballon D’or ceremony, Emi Martinez was awarded the Yashin Trophy, which is given to the best performing footballer, beating Brazilian Ederson and Morocco Goalkeeper Yassine Bounou
Emiliano “Dibu” Martinez – The Mind Games Expert
Emiliano Martinez has a nickname, he is called “Dibu”. Dibu is an Argentinian television series in which there is a character named “Dibu” who is a boy who is a bit ginger with spots on his face and a little bit of long hair. That is how Emiliano used to look when he was a 12-year-old boy. Growing up the nickname stuck with him and since then he is known as Dibu.
Emiliano Martinez is not just about his great goalkeeping skills, he is a max-level mind game expert as well. He likes to get into the heads of opposing players, especially during penalties. It is a very strong trait of his.
Martinez is known to distract the penalty takers by talking smack to them. He will either go on a rant or simply chide them into missing their penalties. It has been used with great effect. Results are there to be seen.
Dibu Martinez has saved several penalties in his career and all of them due to his great mind games and excellent guessing game. In the Premier League alone he has saved numerous penalties by talking smack against his opponents. He knows how to get into players’ heads and he uses it to gain advantage.
As is said time and again, Goalkeepers hit their peaks late, and Martinez is the perfect example of that. He is 30 right now and he has only just started hitting his peak both at the club level and international level.
If Emiliano Martinez’s consistency is to go by then expect him to get even better in coming years. He still has room for improvement but his current version is already world-class, imagine how great he can become if he keeps improving.
Without Martinez, Argentina would still be without a World Cup and Aston Villa would be fighting relegation battles every year. The legend of Emiliano Martinez will keep growing and he will keep giving us one memorable moment after another.