Who is Emiliano Martinez: Argentina's Copa America semifinal shootout hero

The goalkeeper, who plays for Aston Villa in the Premier League, turned hero for Argentina after saving three penalties in the Copa America semifinal against Colombia.

Emiliano Martinez leaps to his left to make a save during the penalty shootout on Tuesday. - GETTY IMAGES

Fans and regular Premier League watchers will be familiar with the talent and composure Emiliano Martinez possesses.

The goalkeeper, who has been Argentina's first choice throughout Copa America, 2021, turned hero for his team on Tuesday after saving three penalties which rocketed the Albiceleste to the Copa America final, where they would face bitter rival and current champion Brazil. 

Club career and rise to prominence

Emi Martinez started his career at Independiente in 2008 but soon made a move to the Premier League when Arsenal signed him in 2010. 

A fringe player at the London club, Martinez spent his time in London shuffling between lower division clubs as a loanee.

He made his Premier League debut as an Oxford United player against Port Vale in its final game of the season in May 2012.

Since then, he was loaned out to several clubs in England like Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham United, Wolverhampton Wanderers, and Reading. He also plied his skills at Getafe in Spain.

ALSO READ - Brazil's Jesus out of Copa America final due to suspension

His breakthrough season was in 2019-20. It was in June 2020 when Arsenal's Bernd Leno was injured in a match against Brighton and Hove Albion. Martinez came off the bench to make his first Premier League appearance since the 2016-17 season. 

He saw out the rest of the season as Arsenal's first-choice keeper and was praised for his solid keeping and commanding presence in the box. He saw silverware that season when he helped Arsenal beat Chelsea 1-0 in the FA Cup final at Wembley. 

His exploits in front of the goal saw Aston Villa make a bid for him next season and he signed a four-year contract in a GBP 20 million move. He broke club records in his very first season as he surpassed Brad Friedel's record of most clean sheets in a season with 15 and also won the Aston Villa Supporters' Player of the Season. 

International career

Martinez received his first senior call-up in 2011 against Nigeria when he was asked to replace Oscar Ustari.

Despite shining between the posts for his national team in the current edition of the Copa America, Martinez got his first senior call up way back in 2011 when he replaced Oscar Ustari in a match against Nigeria.

It was not until a decade later that he got a chance to represent his national team. He donned his national shirt for the first time against Chile in June 2021 in a FIFA 2022 qualification match. Copa America 2021 is Martinez's first major tournament as Argentina's No. 1.

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :