'I love the French' - Emiliano Martinez insists World Cup final 'was just a football match' as he addresses controversial celebrations at FIFA the Best gala

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Emi Martinez Argentina World Cup 2022
Argentina keeper Emi Martinez claims to “love the French” after causing plenty of controversy with his celebrations after the 2022 World Cup final.
  • South American named best keeper on the planet
  • Helped his country to global glory in Qatar
  • Attracted criticism for post-game antics

WHAT HAPPENED? The Aston Villa shot-stopper helped his country to global glory in Qatar, with his heroics late on in an epic showdown with France, and again in a thrilling penalty shootout, ensuring that Lionel Messi and Co got their hands on the grandest of prizes. Martinez revelled in the celebrations that followed, as he appeared to poke fun at Kylian Mbappe on a regular basis, but the enigmatic 30-year-old is eager to point out that his actions were nothing personal and not intended to be a dig at the French nation as a whole.

WHAT THEY SAID: Martinez told TMC after being named The FIFA Best men’s goalkeeper of the year at a star-studded ceremony in Paris: “Seriously, it was just a football match. Honestly, I love France. I've come here plenty of times on vacation. I love the French. I shared a room with two French players from Aston Villa. And as I said before, Arsenal had lots of great players. Arsene Wenger is a legend and he now works for FIFA. It was good to see him again.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Martinez added on France’s efforts to win back-to-back World Cups, which saw Mbappe net a hat-trick in the 2022 final before ultimately coming up short: “Frankly, they did the impossible to try to win the World Cup, they won the Nations League last time (in 2021). They have reached the final and a great future awaits them.”

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Emi Martinez World Cup 2022

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Emiliano Martinez The Best

WHAT NEXT? South American star Martinez has become famed for his antagonistic antics on the field, and he makes no apologies for that behaviour after earning a reputation as one of the most reliable keepers in the world game.