Argentina and Aston Villa ‘keeper Emiliano Martinez advised GOAL all about Lionel Messi’s Copa America speech and his important save within the World Cup remaining.
After his World Cup heroics in Qatar, it’s straightforward to neglect that only a year-and-a-half earlier, Lionel Messi hadn’t received a serious worldwide trophy in 15 years with the nationwide group.
In the 2021 Copa America, the Albiceleste topped Group A earlier than seeing off Ecuador and Colombia within the knockouts – the latter on penalties by way of the help of their goalkeeper.
Preparing to face hosts Brazil and along with his worldwide popularity on the road, Messi delivered a now famous speech rallying his Argentina players, a second Martinez advised GOAL moved him to his core.
“It really touched me,” the Albiceleste shot-stopper stated. “I really felt like I wanted to cry because he mentioned my daughter. My wife gave birth 10 days before the (Copa America) final, so Messi said something about ‘he hasn’t even seen his newborn daughter to stay here with us’, so make sure we do it for him. Messi saying that… it gives you goosebumps. It was a really nice start to that day for me.
A first-half strike from Angel Di Maria was enough to land Argentina a first major trophy in 18 years and – perhaps just as importantly – Messi’s first of his career.
Of course, the boy from Rosario wouldn’t have to wait so long for his next accolade, the most coveted of them all – the 2022 World Cup.
But it could all have been very different had Martinez not intervened.
After a rollercoaster of a match in which France – and Kylian Mbappe – had twice come from behind to draw the levels at 3-3, the hosts had the chance to snatch it in the 123rd minute.
But Martinez stuck out a leg to produce what he calls “the perfect save of his profession”, and a stop which he admitted to GOAL still makes him think at night.
“When I’m going to mattress, once I shut my eyes, I’m considering ‘what if that goes in?’,” Argentina’s No.1 revealed. “I could not take pleasure in it on the time. It was so fast. (Hugo) Lloris cleared it, we headed it again, (Ibrahima) Konate cleared it once more and (Randal) Kolo Muani is one-v-one in opposition to me. Normally I’d rush out to the ball however I used to be cool, I waited for him.
“I put a little bit of pressure. You see my left arm and my left leg goes to the near-post because I was praying, thinking that the ball would go there. I didn’t move my face, I closed my eyes and I thought ‘please hit me’ and it did. I never turned my face. If it hit me here (points to his nose), better, you know, make sure it doesn’t go in. It will be probably the best save of my football career.”
Martinez’s heroics would proceed into the penalty shoot-out, with Argentina and Messi rising victorious. The Albiceleste keeper receiving the Golden Glove for his efforts, in an award which warranted its own questionable celebration.
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