The 3 reasons why Aston Villa goalkeeper Emi Martinez will win FIFA’s The Best award
Emiliano Martinez is the favourite to win FIFA’s The Best award for three key reasons, according to former Aston Villa goalkeeper coach Neil Cutler.
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Aston Villa goalkeeper is one of three contenders to win FIFA’s The Best award for the goalkeeper category on Monday evening and there are plenty of reasons why he should take home the coveted prize. Having put on a terrific display to help the Villans beat Everton to nil on Saturday, the man between the sticks is already back in the headlines but yet more joy could soon come his way.
Martinez is never far away from attention, whether that be because of his performances on the field or his antics off it. Much of his success is down to his ruthless personality – and one of the Argentine’s former goalkeeper coaches believes this is the key to making him one of the best on the planet.
Neil Cutler, who spent two years with Martinez before leaving Villa upon Unai Emery’s arrival, worked with him every day to push him to his limits. In that period the pair built a friendship for life and - although Cutler was technically no longer Martinez’s coach come the time of the World Cup - the duo maintained plenty of communication throughout the competition.
In an exclusive interview with BirminghamWorld, Cutler revealed what in particular makes Martinez among football’s elite.
World Cup heroics
Not only did Martinez win the biggest team accolade of all, but the 30-year-old also took home the Golden Glove award for keeping three clean sheets in Qatar. It was pure jubilation for an entire nation and Martinez played a key role. “After he won the World Cup, it was pure relief. If anyone deserves it, it’s Emi,” Cutler said.
“He’s the one in the dressing room that’s trying to bring everyone together. He’ll arrange barbecues, getting the group and all the families together because he’s such a family man. He wants everybody to be close, get on and move forward together. He’s just so thoughtful and wants the group close, making sure they’re going in the right direction.”
The best professionals on the globe - namely the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Luka Modric - have often gotten to where they are because of their first-class attitudes. These players also tend to be those with the best longevity in their careers, and Martinez will probably get to that point one day.
“I more than anyone else understand what Emi has given to be the very best and get to the very top,” Cutler continued. “His desire and detail to go above and beyond – you have to drag him off the training pitch daily. He’s got a sport scientist and nutritionist. He’ll be up at two, three, or four in the morning in his own home recovering and ready for the next training session.
“He struggles to sleep after games. He’ll have his own strength and conditioning as well - he’s just so detailed to be the very best that he’s only going to head in one direction He deserves everything that he gets because of his work ethic, drive, dedication and desire to achieve,” Cutler said.
‘The greatest I’ve ever worked with’
It hasn’t been easy for Martinez to reach a world-class level as he had to play second fiddle for much of his career and was sent out on loan spells to get any sort of first-team football. Incredibly, the most appearances he ever made for a single club on loan was 18 – at Reading in 2019. Now, two-and-a-half years into his Villa career, he has played 96 times.
Most players would accept defeat and fall away into the lower divisions, but Martinez is different. He wasn’t going to let anyone get in front of his ambitions; the Argentine simply knew he was going to succeed one day. The Mar del Plata native has certainly done that as he has made some remarkable progress over the last few seasons.
“I think he’s the greatest I’ve worked with,” Cutler claimed with confidence. “I think he’s got so much self-belief which means sometimes it’s difficult for other goalkeepers to work with him. Sometimes he can come across as arrogant but it’s not that - it’s more he’s got a self-belief that he’s huge. He knew he was going to the very top and now he has,” Cutler continued.