‘People don’t realise how important it is to work on the mental side’: Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez reveals how psychology and yoga inspired his remarkable turnaround as he opens up on the efforts behind his FA Cup final heroics for Arsenal
- Emiliano Martinez says psychology and yoga have inspired his turnaround
- The goalkeeper said he undertook mental training while he was at Arsenal
- The shot-stopper said it helped him stay positive during the FA Cup final
- The 28-year-old has not conceded a goal for his new club Aston Villa
Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez has put his remarkable turnaround in fortune down to yoga and having a good psychologist.
Martinez emerged from 10 years as a bit-part player at Arsenal to win the FA Cup in August, deputising for Bernd Leno, and securing a £20million move to Villa Park.
The Argentine hasn’t conceded in two Premier League games for his new club ahead of Sunday night’s game against Liverpool – a far cry from the previous decade where he was sent on loan to Oxford, Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham, Wolves, Getafe and Reading.
Emiliano Martinez has put his turnaround in fortune down to yoga and a good psychologist
The Argentine hasn’t conceded in two Premier League games for his new club since his arrival
At Wolves, he made only 15 appearances in 2015/16 due to a thigh injury that caused him problems kicking.
‘I started doing extras like yoga, pilates, treatment away from the club. I haven’t missed a training session (since),’ explains Martinez about his fitness levels.
But he says strengthening the mind has been equally as important in his progress.
The shot-stopper said he started doing extra sessions before helping Arsenal to win the FA Cup
‘Even the day before the (FA Cup) final I had an hour-and-a-half meeting with the psychologist at Arsenal,’ he reveals.
‘People don’t realise how important it is when you play at a high level to work on the mental side.
‘Normally as players you can go into the red zone or blue zone of the mind. In games where things go against you, you think a lot of negatives, which is the red zone of your brain, “We are losing, we can’t recover.”
‘When we conceded against Chelsea in the final, my mind was always blue: we’re going to win, we’re going to turn it around. Whereas before I was maybe a lot in the red zone of my mind, thinking we can’t score two goals.
Martinez said mental training meant he confident his side would come back against Chelsea
That’s something I’ve really worked on during the years. That’s why I thought now is the time to play week in, week out, because I am physically and mentally prepared.’
Villa have had a problem in goal since Tom Heaton was injured at the start of 2020 and they needed to draft in veteran Pepe Reina on loan to stay up on the final day of the season.
Martinez has just turned 28 so could be first-choice for five years or more.
‘I’m in the best shape of my career,’ he says. ‘I didn’t know how many games I would play at Arsenal so it wouldn’t have been the right thing to stay.
‘Aston Villa is a massive club and I am fighting to be No 1 for Argentina which was my dream as a young boy, to play for my country. I had no doubts to come here. If I have two clean sheets, I want three. I want the Golden Glove.’
Martinez’s emotional reaction live on TV to winning the FA Cup endeared him to fans.
The ‘keeper’s emotional reaction live on TV to winning the FA Cup endeared him to fans
In his last Arsenal appearance, he helped them beat Villa’s opponents tonight, Liverpool, on penalties in the Community Shield against Liverpool, though Martinez didn’t have to make a save in the shoot-out with Rhian Brewster hitting the crossbar.
‘Liverpool are probably the best team in the Prem,’ he says. ‘They probably have the best three strikers in the league.. It’s a good test for us and it’s going to be a good test for them as well.
‘We need to be nice and solid in defence and midfield, nice and compact, and hit them on the counter.
‘We’ve got two wins on the bounce and have nothing to lose. If we want to achieve something in the league, we have to beat the best. And to beat the best, you have to be at your best.