Iñigo Martinez “We Want To Play With Fans And We’re Going To Miss It”
Athletic’s return to training at Lezama was unlike anything anyone has ever experienced before. Players had to work individually while wearing gloves and weren’t even allowed to use the locker room. Fortunately, since Monday teams have been allowed to train in groups of 10 and things are starting to feel a bit more normal as La Liga prepares to hopefully resume matches in early June.
“Obviously shape has been loss, although we’ve been active at home,” defender Iñigo Martinez told Onda Vasca. “It’s not the same as being on the field. We’ve been doing strength exercises and also exercises with the ball, which has been difficult. It’s necessary to regain the touch with the ball.”
Martinez admitted that the safety measures required at the start of training made things weird. “Following protocol, staying at a distance, it’s difficult and it’s different from our normal world,” he said. “It was strange. If we want the league to start we have the remain strict.”
Before teams returned to training many players had concerns about safety. Some were accused of not wanting to play, but Martinez made it clear that wasn’t the case.
“Every team wants to play. It’s a lie that player didn’t want to play, it’s the opposite. We all want to play, although we’ve also asked for our safety and for all those workers around us and our relatives who are around us as well.”
Whenever games do return the stadiums will be empty. Matches will take place behind closed doors due to health concerns and after watching the Bundesliga over the weekend, Martinez isn’t looking forward to it.
“It was quite boring to see games from home without an audience. Not hearing the noise without the stadiums full, it’s nothing. It was strange and boring at the same time and I like football. I didn’t enjoy it. We want to play with fans, with rival fans who whistle you, and we’re going to miss it.”
Aside from La Liga, the Copa del Rey final has been postponed until fans can safely attend. In Martinez’s opinion, there was no other option.
“Both teams owe a lot to the fans. There’s no point in playing that derby without fans. We have been strong in that decision, both Athletic and Real. When it comes it will be a joy, a historic day.”
Martinez has often been asked what he will do if he scored in the Cup final against his former club. The defender admitted that it would be natural to celebrate in such a big game, but he really doesn’t know what would happen.
“I want to score my first goal with Athletic, I want to live that feeling. I’m looking forward to that day. If I were to score in the Cup final it would be a difficult moment. I don’t know what to say about it right now. Instinctively, if it happens you’re going to celebrate it but we will see what happens when that moment comes.”
Martinez has been one of the top defenders in La Liga since joining Athletic and was enjoying an incredible season before the football stoppage. Once the season resumes, Athletic will need Iñigo Martinez and other key players to be at their very best to give the team the best chance of finishing in the top seven of the La Liga table.