It’s done. It’s over. Football is now complete for many.
Lionel Messi and company have added the third jewel in the crown of Argentina’s football history. Diego Maradona’s legacy lives on and Messi finally edges past Cristiano Ronaldo in the ‘greatest of all time’ debate.
The celebrations must have gone deep into the next morning, but the foundation of this glorious campaign in Qatar was laid back in 2020, courtesy of half-French and half-Argentine footballer, Neal Maupay.
But how does a Premier League striker who doesn’t play for Argentina add to its most important moment in history?
Among all the team building that Lionel Scaloni did after taking over the role of Argentina’s head coach in 2018, he had the stroke of ‘luck’ by his side.
The wheels of fortune had turned in the favour of La Albiceleste and Maupay, only helped Scaloni find a man who would make a 123rd-minute save in the final to deny France their second consecutive World Cup title.
The man in question is Argentina’s goalkeeper and the winner of the Golden Glove in Qatar, Emiliano Martinez.
In June 2020, when the world was grappling with COVID, the Premier League went about its affairs behind closed doors. Brighton & Hove Albion took on Arsenal and the then 24-year-old Maupay took the Gunners’ goalkeeper Bernd Leno out of the game by challenging for a high ball.
Leno fell to the ground and was stretchered from the pitch. Maupay then scored the winning goal of the match but didn’t realize he had awakened a behemoth who would two years later define Argentina’s world cup campaign along with Messi.
Emi Martinez had joined Arsenal back in 2012, but a plethora of loan spells had diminished his value. But the injury to Leno allowed Martinez to come back into the game and show his worth.
Soon Martinez had his chance, Martinez played a pivotal role in securing the FA cup for Arsenal that season and soon Aston Villa came running with a £20 million offer for the Argentine.
He made the move to Villa and kept a record 15 clean sheets in the Premier League in his first season at the club. and he grasped it with both hands.
Martinez played a pivotal role in securing the FA cup for Arsenal that season and soon Aston Villa came running with a £20 million offer for the Argentine. He made the move to Villa and kept a record of 15 clean sheets in the Premier League in his first season at the club.
After witnessing his Premier League performances, Scaloni knew that he’s found his goalkeeper who could match the quality of their attack and midfield.
Emi Martinez won the Copa America in 2021 and made the most important save of his career against France in added extra time and again saved a Kingsley Coman penalty to see his nation to its third World Cup.
All of it happened because Maupay went a little too aggressively on Leno two years ago, allowing Martinez to break through the ranks.
The script was already written. We just didn’t get its memo. Messi should surely make a stop in England and shake hands with Maupay, who was eligible to play for Argentina but couldn’t. However, his contribution will live on.