An ankle and some hands. The ankle of 10; the hands, how could it be otherwise, of a goalkeeper. The image jumps from Italy 90 to Brazil 2021. From the figure of Diego Maradona to that of Lionel Messi and from Sergio Goycochea to that of Emiliano Esque Martínez. The penalties that Goycochea rejected in the Italian event were as iconic as Pelusa’s pain in his left leg. Argentina reached the final in Rome, as will also be this Sunday in Maracana. The postcards, 31 years later, were that of Messi’s bloody ankle and Martinez’s three saves. And a bonus track was enjoyed: without an audience in the stands, there was no way to hide the psychological strategy of the Aston Villa goalkeeper, nor the call of attention from the Albiceleste captain to his former teammate Yerry Mina.
The Everton defender, true to his style, danced after scoring the penalty that sealed the qualification for the semi-final in Colombia against Uruguay. “Dance now,” the Flea released Mina when Martínez stopped Colombia’s third pitch in the batch. He had already stopped Davinson Sánchez before and then he repeated against Cardona to become the first Argentine goalkeeper to save three penalties in a series of five. A feat with history. The Villa goalkeeper had studied Colombia’s shots against Uruguay and also raised a verbal duel against Reinaldo Rueda’s boys. “I’m sorry, brother, but I eat you,” he told Sánchez. “What are you laughing at? You are nervous? I know you. Look at how I eat you, ”he said to Mina. In front of Cardona he said nothing. He only moved with intensity, from side to side, before qualifying Argentina for the Copa América final against Brazil.
“Now you hear everything,” says Leo Franco, exporter for the Argentine team and Atlético de Madrid. “It is a smart game. Each uses a strategy. Unai Simón’s, for example, was to always be on the go and it worked for him. They are technical ”. The story of Emiliano Martínez begins under the tutelage of a renowned goalkeeper coach in Argentina, Pepe Santoro, winner of four Libertadores and one Intercontinental with Independiente. “Many people asked me what I saw in Emi,” says Santoro. “He was big, kind of clumsy and didn’t have much technique. But with a lot of sacrifice and tears he was purifying ”. At the age of 17, after a South American tournament with the national team, he was signed by Arsenal. “If you’re going to miss it, bring your mom. When your mom gets tired, your dad comes. He gets tired and your brother comes and that’s how you’re going to settle down, ”Santoro told him after his trip to London. “Pepe was like a mother who taught me to walk”, thanks the Argentine goalkeeper.
Last season Aston Villa paid Arsenal € 17.5 million for his transfer. The highest figure for an Argentine goalkeeper. His path, in any case, was not easy. Before consolidating in Birmingham, he was on loan to Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Getafe and Reading. “Draw has the characteristics of a European goalkeeper. He works under sticks and when he comes out he is safe. In rare situations, he reduces spaces and tries to always be within the small area ”, explains Leo Franco.
Like Goycochea in Italia 90 – he started as a substitute and kept the goal after Pumpido’s injury – Martínez was not called to be the starter of Argentina in Brazil. But Armani was with covid. “We must highlight the very good management that the coaching staff did with Draw. First for taking it and then for waiting for the times to make it a starter ”, Franco closes. Martínez, fists of steel, mocking mouth, finalist with Argentina in Brazil.