Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez has revealed that he told Kylian Mbappe to be ‘proud’ in the immediate aftermath of Argentina’s World Cup triumph against France late last year.
The Aston Villa stopper was key to his nation’s success, if not unorthodox in the controversial methods he used to propel his side to victory.
Martinez’s mind games have always been at the forefront of his character and his antics against French superstar Mbappe suggest that there is no player exempt from the Argentinian’s antics.
Emi Martinez’s World Cup heroics
Martinez was instrumental in the World Cup final in Qatar, saving penalties from Kingsley Coman and Aurelien Tchouameni after Argentina and France were tied 3-3 after extra-time.
Mbappe himself nearly stole the show, after netting a hat-trick during the game and dispatching his penalty with similar swagger in the shoot-out. It would all have been in vain, though, after the French tasted defeat in the shoot-out.
Emi Martinez vs Kylian Mbappe rivalry
Moreover, Martinez appeared to stoke the fires of a fledgling rivalry with the Paris Saint-Germain forward, calling for a minute’s silence for the forward in the dressing room following the match.
He was then seen at Argentina’s victory parade in Buenos Aires with a doll depicting the Frenchman during the frenzied celebrations. Despite that, Martinez appeared to have consoled the forward after his nation’s success as Mbappe sat disappointed on the pitch.
Speaking to TyC Sports, he said: “I told him to get up and to look forward. He shouldn’t be on the floor, but proud of the game he had played, which is the truth. He scored four goals on me. The one who should be on the floor is me.”
It is not the first time that Martinez has clarified his actions after the World Cup. He recently attempted to justify the images of him carrying the doll and refuted claims that he was intentionally mocking Mbappe.
“I held it [baby doll] for like two minutes and I threw it away that’s all,” the Villa stopper said. “How can I make fun of Mbappe? He scored four past me. Four goals in a final! He must think I am his toy baby! I have huge respect for Mbappe.”
Despite the goalkeeper’s attempts to justify his actions, it appears that Mbappe remains unconvinced having hit out at the Martinez’s “futile” celebrations upon his return to PSG.
“The celebrations, they’re not my problem,” he said. “I don’t waste any energy on such futile things. What’s important for me is to give the best of myself for my club, and we’re looking forward for Leo [Messi] to return to continue scoring and winning matches.”
During a glitzy awards ceremony, Martinez was crowned the Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper of the Year. Mbappe’s disdained facial expression as Martinez emerged to collect his award, gives indication that their feud may not have reached its conclusion.
However, to Mbappe’s credit, he was able to make it into the FIFPRO World XI for 2022. Martinez on the other hand, lost out on a place to Real Madrid star Thibaut Courtois.
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