Iñigo Martinez “I Believe That This Can Be My Year”
It has been a rollercoaster of emotions for Iñigo Martinez this year since joining Athletic Club back in January. From leaving Real Sociedad to the birth of his daughter the defender has already been through a lot. Now he is currently on international duty with Spain where he is hoping to earn a regular place in the team after the retirement of Gerard Pique. The defender recently gave an interview and said that he believes this could be his best season yet.
“I have a great opportunity right now and I won’t let it pass me. My desire is to be called on more, but your main objective is always to do well for your club too. I believe that this can be my year. My daughter was born, I’ve had the good fortune to be called up by Spain, and I want to give everything for Athletic. An exciting year awaits me and I’m facing it with a lot of desire.”
Looking back at last year under Kuko Ziganda, Martinez admits that it was very difficult. A lot of things caused issues for the team, but now everyone is focused on the new campaign and are excited about manager Eduardo Berizzo. The Argentine has brought an exciting style of football back to the San Mamés and the player feel comfortable with the system. Athletic are preparing to host Real Madrid in their next league figure, but right now Martinez is focused on his international duties.
“Last year was difficult and it wasn’t easy. I arrived halfway through the season, so imagine all the others who were there all year. It was a mixture of a lot of things. This is a new year, with another coach, and the fans have more enthusiasm which helps all of us. Berizzo is doing everything possible to put us at our best. It’s a different style of playing which we like and we all feel comfortable with. Right now I’m focused on the Selection. Ronaldo is gone and replacing all of those goals will not be easy, but we are seeing a different Madrid and that’s where the results are. They are doing well, but we always answer the call of Real Madrid at the San Mamés. It’s our stadium.”
Now that Martinez is back with the Spain National Team he has taken the number 6 shirt, which was previously worn by Andres Iniesta. He understands the pressure that it carries and is ready to fight for his place with Gerard Pique no longer in the team. Looking at the rest of the squad, the Athletic defender has highlighted Sergio Ramos as the leader.
“Wearing Iniesta’s number 6 carries a lot of weight. It does, for sure. Whether you want it or not, he was here for many years. He played at a high level and achieved things that few have achieved. I had the option to take 6 or other numbers, but I chose 6 because I like it. I knew it would weigh a lot because Andres will always be in our memory, but I take it with desire. Gerard has always given everything for the National Team. Pique is Pique. He was also here for many years playing at a high level. He decided to retire and now there are other good players coming. It’s up to us now to show up and that is why we are here. Sergio Ramos is a leader here. He has the personality that few have. Over the years, with the armband or not, he has always been a leader in the dressing room.”
Iñigo Martinez and Spain will be in action on Saturday against England and will then face Croatia on Tuesday. The defender will then return to Bilbao where he will join his teammates in preparation for next weekend’s home game against Real Madrid. Unai Simón and Unai Nuñez are also on international duty with the Spain U21 team.