Emi Martinez says he made himself and his father a promise he wouldn’t leave England until he was number one, and he intends to keep it.
Martinez made his first appearance of the season against Frankfurt in the Europa League on Thursday, keeping a clean sheet after seven saves. The goalkeeper impressed the Arsenal fans who haven’t seen much of him in recent years, even if they would’ve been aware of his successful loan to Reading last season.
Speaking to the Arsenal website, Martinez admitted he promised himself and his father that he was going to make it in football, and that’s something that’s always in the back of his mind.
“I promised my dad I was going to make it and I will make it,” Martinez said.
“It’s what drives me through and has kept me at the top for so many years. When I signed here, I said to him, ‘I just want you to be happy and proud of me’ and told myself that I would not leave this country until I was No 1.
“I’m the No 2 for now, but it won’t stay that way. My aim is to be No 1 and I’ll keep working until I get there, because I’m not comfortable with just being a No 2. When I was playing for Reading, I got this feeling of being the No 1 – and I want that at Arsenal.”
Even though he never really got a proper opportunity to make his mark under Arsene Wenger, Martinez says the former Arsenal boss gave him the confidence to believe he would get there eventually.
“Arsène Wenger, when he was here, always used to say to me, ‘Emi, you’re the future of this club’. I believe that I can be a No 1. Don’t get me wrong, I accept my role as a No 2 at the moment, but my target is to get that No 1 jersey.”
Bernd Leno is clearly Arsenal’s starting goalkeeper in the Premier League at the moment, but the Nottingham Forest game on Tuesday is another opportunity for Martinez to make his mark.
If the Argentine goalkeeper keeps putting in performances like the one against Frankfurt, it will only take a poor period of form or an injury from Leno to see him ahead of the German in the league too. It’s not going to be an easy contest for him, but it’s one that should definitely benefit the club.