Date published: Wednesday 7th October 2020 6:52
Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez has shed more light on why he chose to leave Arsenal this summer.
Martinez had been at Arsenal since 2010, but only gained a regular run of games in the first team towards the end of last season, when Bernd Leno was injured.
Martinez impressed in his shoes, helping the club win the FA Cup and Community Shield. However, there were never any guarantees that he would keep his place once Leno returned.
Hence, with Martinez eyeing regular football to earn a call-up to the Argentine national team, he chose to leave the club.
Reflecting on his long journey with Arsenal, which included six different loan spells, Martinez admitted he waited a long time for the club to show him their trust.
“I had to show I was strong,” he told The Independent. “For years I waited.
“I thought ‘why don’t they trust me?’ I thought the chance was never going to come.”
Martinez’s opportunity finally came after lockdown last season, and many thought he was capable of inheriting the starting berth from Leno even when the German returned.
Now, Martinez has admitted that his career could have taken a different route, but that he was ready to step up on a regular basis.
“I was finally the No 1 and I was ready for it,” he says. “It took 10 years to get there.
“You train as a goalkeeper every day, but nobody prepares you for the story of your life. Nobody trains you to be frustrated, nobody trains you to cry.
“What about when you don’t play for four months? Will you keep going or will be you be mentally dead?
“I could’ve done so much more over the years, but finally the world started to see what I’m capable of. I finished on a high and that’s how I always wanted to leave.”
Martinez reveals when he decided to leave
However, Martinez was left questioning his situation at Arsenal after Mikel Arteta refused to commit to who his number one would be after the Community Shield victory over Liverpool.
While he has no hard feelings towards Arteta, Martinez says he knew he had to leave at that moment.
The 28-year-old added: “I thought if I played well that game, I would be No 1, but afterwards it still wasn’t clear who was going to start in the league.
“I was told that there was a 95 per cent chance I would start against Fulham [on the first day of the season], but I just thought, ‘why not 100 per cent?’ Something didn’t feel right.
“Everyone wanted me to stay, but that’s when I decided to go. I wasn’t upset or emotional, I was proud I did it.
“When I arrived at Arsenal, there were nine goalkeepers in front of me. Every year I had to prove myself, but I left as No 1. That was my story done there.
“The following morning I texted Mikel and told him. I thanked him, I said I won these trophies because of the way he trained, the way he changed the team.
“I trust his process so much, he is incredible. [When he was a player], I always thought he was different. It’s like with [Lionel] Messi, I don’t see him as a top player, I see him as a top coach.
“He’s got so much to prove and I wish him all the best. I will always love everyone at Arsenal, I will always be grateful, but it was time to say goodbye.”
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