‘I played at Sheffield Wednesday with World Cup winner Emiliano Martínez – we played PlayStation and lost at Yeovil Town..’
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While the headlines deservedly centred on Lionel Messi as Argentina raised the World Cup aloft on Sunday evening, it is goalkeeper Martínez that surely takes the gong for best supporting actor for an extra time wonder save and efforts of distraction in the penalty shootout that could make even his Owls successor David Stockdale blush.
Images snapped-at with his golden glove trophy displayed one of the best of the world and while an indecent pose or two may have been struck – it showed a professional bursting with confidence and not afraid to show off a rambunctious personality.
It’s a far departure from the friendly but reserved 21-year-old Arsenal prospect that wandered through the doors at Middlewood Road in October 2013, the start of his second-ever loan stint after a short time with Oxford United the year before.
“Straight away we could see he was a very good keeper even at that age,” then-Owls midfielder Giles Coke told The Star. “When he arrived you could see that potential but on the pitch he was a bit quiet and reserved.
“I watch him now and you can see he’s grown into being one of the big characters even in an Argentina squad with those huge names. He’s one of the main men, a real big leader and you can tell people respect him a lot.
“Look, he was young, but at Sheffield Wednesday you never saw that side to him. That bit of arrogance he has now, telling Van Gaal to shut up in a press conference. He’s got that bit of edge and he never had that in his character, he was just a really cool guy. I liked him.”
No Aston Villa number one, Martínez was brought in to provide competition for Chris Kirkland and alongside the club’s FA Cup run played in two different stints in goal.
It was a loan spell fairly unspectacular in its nature – defeats at Yeovil Town and a draw at Macclesfield were two of his 15 outings. He kept only two clean sheets in total and Wednesday finished 16th.
But Coke and others in Sheffield saw enough from the youngster that he would go on to big things.
“It was always on the cards,” he said. “I thought when he left Wednesday that he’d go on and play for Arsenal. You could tell he was special and would become a very, very good keeper.
“He made a couple of errors but he was young and who doesn’t at that age? Did I think he’s go on to play for Argentina and win the World Cup? Probably not, but he was good enough that you wouldn’t rule it out. You just never know in football.”
And memories of the run-of-the-mill Totley apartment he shared with one or two other Wednesday loanees of the time?
“I went round a few times and played on the PlayStation with him,” Coke smiled.
“I’d like to say I beat him but if I’m honest I can’t remember! He was just a genuine top, top man. They’re fond memories.”