Emiliano Martinez has downplayed the infamous doll row that he started and expressed his highest appreciation for “world-class” Kylian Mbappe to GOAL.
The mysterious South American goalkeeper, who represents Aston Villa in Premier League club play, led Argentina to World Cup victory in Qatar in 2022.
In what turned out to be a historic match at the end of that campaign, he lined up against Mbappe of Paris Saint-Germain, who defeated him three times to become the first player to score a hat trick in the World Cup final since Geoff Hurst for England in 1966.
Martinez, however, was to have the last laugh as Argentina won in a terrifying penalty shootout, permitting raucous celebrations.
Martinez, the Albiceleste’s dependable final line of defense, earned himself a Golden Glove trophy, but Argentina ultimately prevailed in a nail-biting penalty shootout, sparking wild scenes of joy from Lusail to Buenos Aires.
The 30-year-old made headlines for his antics when accepting the award, then made more news when he was photographed in Argentina with a toy with Mbappe’s face on it during an open-top bus procession.
Martinez received criticism for what he has always insisted was a harmless joke and no slur towards a fellow World Cup winner, and he is still quick to emphasize how highly he views PSG forward Kylian Mbappe, telling GOAL: “World class talent, what can I say. He was quick. He was superb. He was strong, and he beat me by scoring four goals (including a penalty in the decisive shootout).
Martinez continued, “There were a lot of people, a lot of toys in the bus procession. The notorious doll incident drew more publicity than he could have ever expected. Imagine that six million people are hurling stuff at you, and you will be inundated. You can’t help but giggle when you see how many “toys” Argentina fans are trying to display of French or Dutch players. There was nothing else to it; it was just a celebration.
When asked if Mbappe can learn valuable lessons from Argentina captain Lionel Messi, who is currently playing for Paris Saint-Germain, Mbappe responded, “Yeah, Messi is obviously the best ever player to play football so everyone learns, not just him, even Neymar and all the players that are there at PSG will learn from him.” Mbappe has been named the new captain of the France national team.
Martinez has profited from working with Messi personally; he won the Best Men’s Goalkeeper award at the recent FIFA Best Awards after being a member of teams that won the Copa America and the World Cup over the most remarkable of 18-month spans.