'Dibu' Martínez and his first triumph with Argentina2023-09-02
- Emiliano ‘Dibu’ Martínez celebrates his 31st birthday on September 2nd, 2023.
- The Argentine goalkeeper clinched the 2021 CONMEBOL Copa America title.
Selected as the tournament’s best goalkeeper and playing a decisive role in securing the 15th title for the Albiceleste, Emiliano ‘Dibu’ Martínez etched his name in Argentine national team history by ending a 28-year championship drought.
At the age of 12, ‘Dibu’ left his family to try his luck at Independiente de Avellaneda. Then, at 18 in 2010, he crossed the Atlantic to sign for English club Arsenal, but struggled to shine at England’s elite before joining Aston Villa in 2020.
In the national team, his success also came in fits and starts. He was named to the bench for two friendlies in 2011, but wasn’t called up again for eight years. It wasn’t until June 2021 that he saw his first playing time as Argentina’s goalkeeper, during the qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
His status as the country’s number one goalkeeper was confirmed shortly after, in the 2021 CONMEBOL Copa America. There, an image captured worldwide attention, as he saved three penalties in the crucial shootout during the semi-finals against Colombia. ‘Dibu’ succeeded in breaking the concentration of the penalty takers with phrases that have since become historic.
Then came the final against Brazil at the Maracanã Stadium, where Argentina secured the title after nearly three decades, thanks to Angel Di María’s goal that resulted in a 1-0 score.
For ‘Dibu’, winning this title was his greatest aspiration – to help Lionel Messi in lifting a trophy with the Albiceleste.
«It was my dream; it was what I wanted most in the world. We gave it to Messi, the one who deserved it the most, we gave the title to the best in the world», said the goalkeeper emotionally after the final.
Emiliano affirmed that becoming a champion with his national team had been a dream of his since he left his country to go to England.
«There are no words; it’s a dream I’ve had since I was a child. I joined Arsenal when I was 16, and after many years of hard work, I knew it would come true. There’s nothing better than the ‘Maracanaço’, and giving the title to the best player in the world, which was his lifelong dream,» he said.
CONMEBOL.com / AFP