Emi Martinez became the first active Aston Villa player to win the World Cup when Argentina defeated France in Sunday’s Final.
Martinez starred in a what’s being called the greatest World Cup Final in history, having made two saves in a match-deciding penalty shootout.
The 30-year-old helped deliver Lionel Messi a World Cup title, ending all arguments against his status as the greatest player in football history.
Goals by Messi and Angel Di Maria in the first half were canceled out late in the second half when Kylian Mbappe scored in the 80th and 81st minutes.
Messi gave Argentina a 3-2 lead in the 108th minute, but Mbappe would later convert on a 118th minute penalty to tie the match at 3-3.
France looked poised to snatch a winner in stoppage time when Randal Kolo Muani broke in 1-v-1 with Martinez, but the keeper stood tall, came off his line, and stopped the Frenchman with his left foot.
On to penalties, where Martinez stopped Kinglsey Coman and Aurélien Tchouaméni with France’s second and third attempts, paving the way for Gonzalo Montiel to fire Argentina to victory as their fourth kick taker.
“…a World Cup that I have dreamed of so much.”
“It’s a moment that I always have to give to my teammates, they scored three goals against me and it hurt, but then I did everything right,” Martinez said post-match.
“One thing we said was that it was our destiny to suffer, we got 3-2 ahead again, and then they gave another penalty against us. Then I did my thing, what I dreamed of, there could not be a World Cup that I have dreamed of so much.”
For his exploits, Martinez earned the Golden Glove Award given to the tournament’s best keeper. He and Argentina completed a miraculous turnaround at the tournament, having lost their first match to Saudi Arabia.
Naturally, Martinez is now the subject of a host of transfer rumors linking him to bigger clubs.
But after winning the Copa America in the summer and penning a new deal with the club, Martinez pledged his allegiance to Aston Villa. His remarks should put Villa supporters’ minds at ease.
“So winning a major tournament for Argentina, thank you to Aston Villa for developing me as a good goalkeeper; and I think actually I can improve much more here and I want to commit my future here.
“It feels like home.”
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