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SPORTS | 23-12-2022 09:11

Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano 'Dibu' Martínez gets a hero's welcome in his home town

Emiliano Martínez greeted by a crowd estimated at 100,000 in his home town, Mar del Plata, as he calls on young goalkeepers to win Argentina's "their fourth star."

Argentina's World Cup-winning goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez was greeted by a crowd estimated at 100,000 in his home town, Mar del Plata.

It was the Albiceleste's third title but 'Dibu' Martínez is the first World Cup winner from the resort town south of Buenos Aires, where tennis player Guillermo Vilas was previously the most famous sports personality.

A huge crowd gathered at the beachfront Paseo Hermitage to welcome the shot-stopper home, holding up signs reading: "Dibu, we love you."

Martínez showed the crowd in front of the beach on Thursday his trophy as goalkeeper of the tournament and told them it was "not only for me but for all the kids, the little goalkeepers, who dream of going for the fourth star."

"This is a beautiful thing, that a goalkeeper gets this recognition, because this is almost always given to strikers," said Martínez, who left Argentina at 17 to join Arsenal in England and now plays for Aston Villa in the Premier League.

"I went to England when I was 17 and when I started to play for the national team my dream was to bring a title to my city. I got them the Copa América [in Brazil 2021], we won the Finalissima at Wembley against the European champions and we beat the last world champions in Qatar," said the star.

Asked about his memorable save from French forward Randal Kolo Muani in the final minute with the score at 3-3, the entertainer replied: "It was incredible because we had been in control of the game for 70 minutes. I think it was one of the best games we played. They got bigger and had a chance to win it, but until the ball goes in, you can't celebrate."

City legislators presented a project to rename the city's Estadio José María Minella after Martínez, who has developed a reputation as a penalty shoot-out specialist after his success in the 2021 Copa América final against Brazil and then against France in Doha.

"On penalties I become strong and I know that people respect me, I know because opposing players have told me so," he said.

Martinez defended his strategy of trying to disconcert penalty takers. 

"When you take the first penalty in a world final, you know the other guy is going to be very nervous," he said. "I try to play them, to push the ball away a little bit, to talk to them."

French Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra criticised Martínez on Friday for mocking French star Kylian Mbappé after the World Cup final.

"This Emiliano Martínez is not distinguishing himself. It is rather pathetic," she said. 

 

– TIMES?AFP

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