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'We were aware of his huge qualities' - Ex-Arsenal boss Wenger 'proud' of Martinez's World Cup heroics for Argentina

12:10 am AEDT 16/12/22
Martinez Wenger
Arsene Wenger says he is ''proud'' of how well former Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez has played for Argentina at the 2022 World Cup.
  • Martinez shining in Argentina's colours
  • Started his journey with Arsenal
  • Wenger lauds his achievements

WHAT HAPPENED? Martinez joined Arsenal's academy ranks back in 2012 when Wenger was still in charge of the north London club, but spent the next eight years struggling to break into the senior team. The Argentine was sent for several loan spells during his time at the Emirates Stadium before finally getting his chance after an injury to Bernd Leno towards the end of the 2019-20 campaign. Martinez impressed between the sticks for Mikel Arteta's side but was sold to Aston Villa later that summer, and the Argentine has since insisted that the Gunners ''didn't deserve'' to have him on their books. Despite his failure to make a mark at Arsenal, Wenger fondly remembers his passion for the game and takes great pride in how far he has come, with the 30-year-old now just one game away from becoming a world champion.

WHAT THEY SAID: The legendary former Arsenal manager has told Mirror Sport: ''I am very happy for him. We were aware of his huge qualities. He was determined and had a desire to learn and a big passion for the game. Sometimes he went out on loan and didn’t even play. But it didn’t stop his belief and motivation. When I see him now play knowing what he went through I admire even more his achievement. Well done Emi, we are proud of you.''

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Martinez has been brilliant between the sticks during Argentina's dream run to the World Cup final, most notably keeping out two penalties in a quarter-final shootout win over the Netherlands. Martinez was on top form again in their 3-0 semi-final win over Croatia, which ensured that Lionel Scaloni's side will get an opportunity to fight for the title on Sunday.

IN THREE PHOTOS:

WHAT NEXT FOR MARTINEZ? France beat Morocco 2-0 in the second semi-final to set up a showpiece clash with Martinez and Argentina at the Lusail Stadium on December 18.