Beyond what was collected in his vast career as a midfielder in the Ascent, Diego Martinez he had finished training as a coach in the project Barcelona, the plan with which the Blaugrana club had landed in Argentina to set foot in South America and look for “new Messis”; He even did a master’s degree at the Masía and achieved the photo that he treasures in his WhatsApp image: his children, with a smile that exceeds their faces, together with Lionel Messi. From there he went on to transmit his knowledge in the quarry of Boca, but his restless spirit was stronger than security, than the fact that he was working in one of the most powerful clubs on the continent.
They called it from Ituzaingó, who then participated in the last category of Argentine soccer, the First D. And he grabbed his bag, summoned his coaching staff and moved to the western area of Greater Buenos Aires, with the expectation of injecting the Barcelona philosophy into the humble soccer of the Ascent, away from the lights that the tiki taka of the mythical team of Pep Guardiola and Lionel Messi.
“You’re in a club like Boca and if you do badly in First D and you lose your job … It crossed my mind, but always analyzing situations, trying to see every opportunity that presents itself in life. I’m going after my dream, what I’m passionate about and what makes me happy. I was in Boca, which gives you everything, and I felt that to get out of the comfort zone, the step of leading a first division I wanted to have. The Ituzaingó opportunity seemed serious to me, it was a good chance to demonstrate an idea, a way of working. And that from that way a game model could be developed like the one we had in mind ”, says Martínez, 41, in dialogue with Infobae.
And what might seem like a risky move turned out to be the first step of a journey through all the categories of the Ascent that allowed him to earn a name. From First D, to C, then to First B, he jumped to First National. Martínez led León, Cañuelas, Comunicaciones, Midland and Estudiantes de Caseros, which he promoted to the second category of local football, transformed him into one of the animators of the contest and put him in the semifinals of the Argentine Cup. What was exhibited by their teams provoked the call of Godoy Cruz, which summoned him for his first experience in the Professional Football League.
“It is a growth that we had in our head. We tried to prepare year after year, we are a young and restless coaching staff, we waited for this chance and, when Godoy Cruz was given the opportunity, we did not doubt it and we understood that it would be a good possibility to propose to be better and better ”, he explains .
-What is Diego Martínez’s idea of the game?
-We seek to try to put together the idea based on the rival goal and to be superior to the opponent from the game, and that this superiority is translated into scoring opportunities. We are looking for an associated game, of possession, but generating situations; posing a balanced team, trying to suffer as little as possible on the defensive side. If we have to choose, we take risks so that things happen rather than waiting or looking for the opponent’s mistake. We propose to make things happen.
-For a long time it was established that in the Ascent, due to the states of many playing fields or different factors, it is not easy to propose a showy game, with the ball on the ground.
-It was not by chance that we went to a club like Ituzaingó, which gave us the best features, the same in Cañuelas, Estudiantes, Comunicaciones; with the playing fields always in good condition and where the possibilities of carrying out a game model like ours were more feasible. It is what I am passionate about, identifies and I like. Professional football is measured a lot based on the results, how we have it very clear, that is why the forms are very important. We are very competitive, we live from the result, but we have achieved that after each process the identity of the team appeared.
-And when you arrived in Ituzaingó with the Barcelona game flag, what reception did you have?
-The reception was very good, the players love challenges, they feel in control, with the management, to make things happen. It is something that makes you feel better, in that you take control of things. Being dizzying and creating situations … I don’t know any footballer who doesn’t like it.
-However, there are also other strategies that have also reported success, do players feel more comfortable with one form than another?
-From the characteristics of the sport itself, no way assures you that you are going to win, you try to be genuine with what you feel and with the idea. The important thing is that the players are convinced that this will bring them closer to winning.
-How did you decide to be a coach and choose the path you chose?
-I was always very competitive, since I was a kid. To play with my friends, in any game situation or to feel this sport. I always considered myself a team player, not an individualist. There was something about me, besides being a physical education teacher; the fact of working on the Barcelona project in Buenos Aires gave me my day to day. How was the preparation of the footballer in the work week? We came from an idea of athletics, individual sports, and today the footballer prepares in a different way, it is something more comprehensive. In the Barcelona project I found, together with everything, the bases to make sense of many of my questions. One continues at that, on the path of wondering, correcting things, adapting to others.
-The idea sounds interesting, but doesn’t its application depend on the players you have?
-You choose the footballers based on a game model. The characteristics of the model are given by the players. But always within parameters and behaviors common to the different game systems.
-Who were the best coaches you had?
-I had Coqui Raffo as a player. And he had told me that the day he stopped playing he would start working with him. I had a fourth knee operation, I went to talk to him and realized that he was ready to take that step, even with a one-year contract in force as a footballer in Estudiantes. I decided on a Friday and Monday I was already working. I did the duel working. He and Salvador Pasini were the coaches that marked me the most. I took many things from them from what I am today as a coach, both inside and outside; in the assembly, in the relationship with the players … In the Promotion there are very capable people. One example is Sergio Rondina, who started in the Ascent and was able to have stability in elite football.
-What were the answers you found in the Barcelona project?
-It was six months in the Barcelona project, I took the bases of the methodology. How is the way in which team sports are conceived, based on the teachings of Paco Seirulo and Joan Vila; the fact of training from real team situations, putting the athlete at the center. Coordinate physical, cognitive, technical, emotional capacities.
-Barcelona comes from receiving a hard blow against Bayern Munich, a 2-8 unthinkable a decade ago. At the same time, there are aspects of football analysis that have already begun to point out that the Barcelona style is lagging behind against rivals with the dynamics and physical presence that the Germans exhibited. Do you think something should change?
-The essence of Barcelona is the same and must continue on the same path, I am an absolute fan of the idea and the philosophy of the club, in football and in life. The fact of relating to an element and that everyone feels important from that. It is about the collective game, associated, and from the game to be superior to the rival. Is football today more dizzying? Can be. When Luis Enrique took Luis Suárez and joined them with Messi and Neymar, he looked for quick transitions when the team was pressed fast, there he generated something more direct. But it did not change and should not change. Throughout history Barcelona has suffered moments of crisis, because it is difficult to sustain itself. He has been fighting in important things for more than 15 years, except this year, when he did not win a title. This is football and in those instances the details are so minimal that make you go one way or the other … This year he fought the tournament, was close in the Copa del Rey, and suffered with Bayern, an intense team, prepared and very offensive game. Without changing the essence, you will have to see how to be a team that is at the forefront.
-The crisis reached such a point this year that he even collided head-on with Messi
-Messi is the greatest thing that I saw, the most exceptional player that I could enjoy. I am an absolute fan of him, I like what he shows on the court, listening to him in his statements, his character is a winner; the only thing that wants to be better every day. Later, the decisions are made by him together with his family environment. But he is the best I saw, he is a player who, really, with his way of being, has helped me in the upbringing of my children, to transmit certain values to them.
-Now it will be your turn to try to bring the philosophy that you proclaim to Godoy Cruz, who in the last tournament did not have good performances and in essence has a young team
-This is what we try to do in each club where we have to be, try to convince the players to help us shape the idea. Many of these players are the ones who qualified for a Copa Libertadores, the ones who came second, along with guys from the club who are very capable.
-Together with your coaching staff they went through all the categories and reached First, what is the next step?
-Prepare ourselves for the first match of the championship, that the team play as we want all of us who are part of the club. After that first game, prepare for the second. We come from Estudiantes, where we spent the two most important years in the career of this coaching staff, we were happy, we achieved a spectacular job with the people of the club. And we want to continue on the same path.
I kept reading:
You have to dress King Messi
The story told by Maradona himself of how he slammed the door on Barcelona for something similar to Messi