Goalkeepers being a little unusual is one of the oldest cliches in football with huge personalities pulling on the gloves across the years on the World Cup stage.
Argentina’s Emiliano Martinez is no different from his shot-stopping predecessors when it comes to confidence and individuality, each a key feature of his pre-game routine.
His switch to Aston Villa brought him into greater Premier League focus, but it’s his status with Argentina that has elevated him to a new level.
In a squad where Lionel Messi dominates every headline, Martinez is vital for La Albiceleste, with Messi himself a huge fan of the 30-year-old.
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Why is Emiliano Martinez nicknamed Dibu?
Martinez’s nickname ‘Dibu’ (short for Dibujo) comes from his early days at Independiente.
It refers to his supposed likeness to a character from the Argentine cartoon telenovela Mi familia es un dibujo and he has carried it with him ever since.
In England, he’s known as Emi Martínez but in Argentina his nickname is Dibu. The reason is this cartoon character from a TV / movie series in Argentina. He says when he was a kid he had freckles and that’s why they started calling him that. pic.twitter.com/VbWXauwfHT
— Luis Mazariegos (@luism8989) July 7, 2021
Why is Emiliano Martinez a cult hero with Argentina fans?
Martinez emerged on the scene as a late bloomer for Argentina with his international debut coming as a 29-year-old in 2021.
Scaloni was unconvinced by Willy Caballero, following the retirement of Sergio Romero, and Martinez’s rise at Villa caught his eye.
Martinez’s trademark resilience was shown from the start of his Argentina career: he accepted a call-up after two previous false dawns with the national team, after Scaloni’s show of faith.
Neither has looked back since, as he was thrown in the deep end of a World Cup qualifier in June 2021 before nailing down his No.1 spot ahead of the Copa America.
Martinez has developed a reputation for grabbing chances that fall his way, and he endeared himself in the eyes of Argentina fans after his penalty saving antics en route to them winning the trophy last year.
— Copa América (@CopaAmerica) July 7, 2021
Three spot-kick saves in the semifinal shootout win over Colombia rocketed him into the spotlight, as his mind games and chest-beating dragged Argentina to the final, where his calmness in between the posts helped La Albiceleste over the line.
Where does Emiliano Martinez play his club football?
Martinez’s decision to swap Arsenal for Aston Villa ahead of the 2020/21 season has transformed his career from back-up option to first choice at Villa Park.
Despite managerial changes at Villa, Martinez has been the most consistent figure at the club, having missed just two of a possible 91 Premier League games since his arrival.
Fifteen clean sheets in his debut season is the standout statistic, bettered only by Ederson and Edouard Mendy in 2020/21, followed by 11 in 2021/22.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) December 9, 2022
Who is Emiliano Martinez?
Martinez was born in the coastal Argentinian city of Mar del Plata, part of the Buenos Aires province, in 1992.
After emerging through the youth ranks at Independiente, Martinez was targeted by clubs in Spain, Italy and England, before opting to taking up a youth contract offer at Arsenal in 2010.
Despite the change of culture and setting, Martinez was determined to force his way into Arsene Wenger’s plans, and accepted loan moves to Oxford United, Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham United, Wolves, Getafe and Reading in a bid to develop.
His long path to the Gunners first team came to fruition after Wenger’s departure, but his frustration came to a head in 2020, and he accepted a new challenge at Aston Villa.
Does Emiliano Martinez speak English?
After joining Arsenal, Martinez prioritised learning English, but he admitted his first six months of adaptation were hard.
“I had a really good teacher — she’s now [Aston Villa manager] Unai Emery’s English teacher!” he told an interview with Tribuna in 2019.
“I hadn’t seen her for many years but now I see her every day at the training ground. I’m thankful for the English she taught me, it was a massive help.
“I was able to pick up the language quite easily, but the first six months were difficult. The main thing Arsenal wanted me to learn was the defensive words in football: ‘Get out,’ ‘left, right shoulder’ and other things.
“I managed to learn those in one week, thankfully — and I also speak Portuguese fluently and understand Italian as well.”
🗣️ “Hopefully we don’t have that ref anymore… He’s useless! Van Gaal said they have an advantage if it goes to penalties, he needs to keep his mouth shut.”
👀 @emimartinezz1 didn’t hold back in his post-match interview!
— beIN SPORTS (@beINSPORTS_EN) December 9, 2022