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Emi Martinez’s reaches summit of emotional Arsenal journey to FA Cup glory

Ahead of the FA Cup final, looking at Emi Martinez’s career in pure footballing terms would have told the story of a tough journey.

The 27-year-old joined Arsenal a decade ago and facing competition from Wojciech Szczesny, Lukasz Fabianski, Petr Cech, David Ospina and Bernd Leno, his first real chance between the sticks has just come. In the meantime, he has had six loan spells away from the club, his most recent in the 2018/19 season at Reading.

Making 24 appearances in all competitions for the Gunners before this season, that alone would have caused many to see the struggles Martinez has had to endure in his career.

Ahead of the final, however, the goalkeeper opened up about the difficulties he faced even before he made the decision to sign for Arsenal as he seemed set on staying with his family in Argentina.

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“I was scared. I said to my agent: ‘I am only going to trial and see what happens.’ In my mind, there was no way I was going to leave my family,” he told the Telegraph on July 30.

“I saw my brother and mother crying, saying ‘please don’t go,’ But I had also seen my dad crying late at night because he could not pay the bills.

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“I remember the day that me and my brother ate, but not my mum and dad. I had to be brave. I said yes for them.”

Despite the leap of faith he took back in 2010 being quite a turbulent one, 10 years later, the emotion Martinez expressed after the full time whistle displayed just how much getting his hands on an FA Cup winners’ medal meant to him and without a doubt, his family too.

Almost immediately after lifting the trophy, he was approached for a post-match interview and understandably became emotional when the subject of his family was raised.

Shortly after, however, he was able to find some space on the side of the Wembley pitch to catch up with those he wanted to see most in a moment which showed just how important the day was to him. Headphones in, with a beaming smile, Martinez had fulfilled his role to the fullest.

When called in for the injured Bernd Leno at the Amex Stadium, the 27-year-old was immediately called into action, making an impressively clean save from an Aaron Mooy shot on the edge of the box. Since then, he has hardly put a foot wrong and done extremely well to give Mikel Arteta a real selection dilemma when next season comes around in September.