Tuesday , July 27 2021

Gonzalo "Steta" Martinez, Argentine player of the year: a history of football reconstruction that fell in love with fans of the river

Gonzalo Martinez He runs away, takes his index finger from his left hand to his mouth and, after transforming the true goal of Kilmes, seeks silence for fans in the Monumental. It's February 8, 2016, and few imagine (the glorious) outcome of that story between "Damage" and fans of "Millionaire".

This gesture of the player was far from being earlier and later in his relationship with the public at Nunez. On the contrary, he did nothing, but deepened his criticism of his personality. Those murmurs that came down from the stands and who questioned their level of football claims his defiance.

However, something began to take place in the field of play. That the shelling that was stuck in one corner (the first of its two goals in the afternoon) in the 5-1 win over "El Cervercero" was the first approach to "Damage" that will become a figure and reference of the room Marcelo Gallardo.

The River Coach was undoubtedly a fundamental factor in the transformation of Mendoza. In the same way as it managed to bring out the best version of many players during its cycle, El Muninko also applied his knowledge to maximize the abilities of the former hurricane. Although these skills were often interrogated, the coach always knew the potential of his director.

Gonzalo Nicolás Martínez arrived in the river in January 2015, in exchange for $ 4.5 million for 75% of his pass. At that time, the "spoiled child" of the river was Leonardo Pisculici. The quality and key goals of the former Argentinos Juniors overshadowed the figure of "Damage", which also offered its good standing as a letter of introduction.

Former Globo player has cost him the chance to win the ownership in his early days of the actors Nunez. Their actions did not convince him and his devil's gamble – the one that made him appear on the pitch of Thomas Adolfo Duco – often culminated in actions with bad resolutions: he collided with rival defenders and failed to create associations with his teammates.

It was in that 2016 when his a process of reversing football. Gallardo was a craftsman of that new player in which he became "El Hurt". The coach not only confirmed his confidence over and over again, but also inspired him what the team needed him to do. "DT has helped me a lot, it's not easy for me to have fun, he saw that I will give up some moment," the player said in a recent interview.

With work and durability, Martinez took the challenge, changed and paid more than that coach support. He became a much more cerebral football player. He raised his head and began to meet his comrades. Without losing the taste for individual magical touches, he privileged his contribution to the collective. He also developed tactical and positive discipline and intelligence, which has become fundamental for the overall performance of the team. From this, he was rewarded with the unconditional recognition of the fans.

A special chapter in this love story with supporters "millionaires" were Couples against Boca. "Damage" found in the crosses before the classical rival incentive to confirm his leadership and his strength. A great volleyball in Bombonera for the local tournament, a penalty in the Supercopa in Mendoza, another volleyball – defended to the first by the Super League and unforgettably run to an empty arc in Santiago Bernabeu. All these conquests mean triumphs and also have earned the player to create a poetic song. That "How mad" is a hit that will resonate even when the (first?) player's cycle in the club is already closed.

The technical quality, the goals against Boca and in key cases and the titles achieved (eight to four years) They put "Damage" in Olympus on a number of "10" of the river. In what is, perhaps, the most successful cycle in the history of the club, Mendoza had the responsibility to wear a shirt with a lot of history and demand. Not born in the institution, may also be a condition. However, He went from small to large and finished receiving recognition (and idolatry) on the river.

His performance was not unnoticed by the coach (then the interim) of the Argentine team, Lionel Scaloni, which he quoted at the beginning of his post-world Russian 2018 cycle and gave him the responsibility of being the team's head. The injuries prevented the River player from continuing with the blue and white shirt, but the loan is open to the future that Copa America faces from Brazil 2019 and possible partnership with Lionel Messi, if the Rosary decides to return to the national orchestra.

"He is a player who is qualified to play in a big league", Gallardo told when he was asked about the transfer of Martinez Atlanta United from the US MLS. "Damage", which lasted 25 years, chose that destination because it was the strongest offer that came to the club for its passage, but he does not lose hope of going to a higher level of football. "Every player wants to go to Europe, but I know that tomorrow they will take me and pay more than I pay, because I believe in my conditions," he said.

The 2018 player was so remarkable that he chose the English newspaper Guardian among the 100 best players of the year (It was 94 °). He was the only representative of local football who earned merit to enter the list. In addition, he received the recognition America's best player in the traditional award given by the newspaper "El Pais" from Uruguay.

This story of overcoming could not end with that punishment against Al Ain which prevented the River from winning the title and joining the World Cup final in the club against Real Madrid. The two goals against Japan Kashima Antlers – especially the latter – in the duel for third place were much more suitable closure for the cycle "Damage" on the river. The celebration at the Monumental to get Copa Libertadores against Boca worked like a dessert strawberry for this affair between the player and the fans.

"I'll let you down". These were the four words Martinez repeated until saturation after the final in Bernabeu. He said in Madrid, in the Arab Emirates and in Nunez. He told his teammates and fans. He always said with tears in his eyes.

That recreation of Boca's goal on the Monumental Lawn was the last function of "Damage" with the red band on the chest. River fans hope this is not farewell, but we'll see you later, and that after a few years he can again echo in his debates: "What a madman …".

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