Next Tuesday is going to be a ground-breaking day for Emiliano Martinez.
When he starts in goal for Argentina in their 2022 World Cup opener against Saudi Arabia in Qatar’s 80,000-capacity Lusail Stadium, he will allow time for a moment of self-reflection.
“I will tell myself, ‘I’ve made it’, when the first game starts,” the 30-year-old Aston Villa ‘keeper says.
Alongside the personal gratification of representing his country at another major tournament, Martinez is determined to add to his trophy haul.
“We’re going there to win,” Martinez says, after tasting success when he played a leading role in last year’s Copa America victory — Argentina’s first major silverware for 28 years.
“It’s going to be the toughest game of my career,” he says of that Group C opener.
“Maybe when I hear the national anthem, the tears might be there. I’m just so proud to be Argentinian. It will be such a proud day for me and my family.”
Most of all, though, he will stand in between the posts feeling relieved and with so much love to give.