Just like he hailed former Super Eagles number and Nigeria international Vincent Enyeama over seven years ago at the World Cup, Lionel Messi had cause to hail another goalkeeper Tuesday night at the ongoing Copa America in Brazil.
On both occasions the goalkeepers were at their best taking their saves to a new dimension. While in the Nigerian case Enyeama stopped rampaging Messi from increasing the tally in eventual lone goal victory over the Eagles at Ellis Park the Brazil episode saw Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez stop Colombia from singing victory song over Argentina.
An apparently elated Messi described his teammate and Aston Villa goalie Marinez as a “phenomenon” after his penalty shootout heroics for Argentina.
Martinez who stood like rock of gibratar made three saves as Argentina beat Columbia on penalties to set up a Copa America final against arch-rivals Brazil.
The 28-year-old followed up a brilliant season in the Premier League for Aston Villa by becoming the Albiceleste’s latest hero.
Lautaro Martinez opened the scoring in the first half, with Messi setting up the Inter Milan striker, before Luis Diaz forced the shootout with a 61st-minute strike for Colombia.
“We have Emi, who is a phenomenon,” said Messi. “We trusted him. We achieved the goal of being able to play all the games and now we are going to the final.”
Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni added on Martinez: “We are very happy with Emiliano’s performance, not only because of the penalties, but also because of the security that he is transmitting. The group of defenders is permanently supported and we like that.”
Martinez swapped Arsenal for Aston Villa last summer after finding himself behind Bernd Leno in the pecking order at the Emirates Stadium.
And back in March, he admitted that he didn’t think Arsenal deserved him, he told Sky Sports: “I love everything about Arsenal. I still love them and I’m still watching the games, but I just felt like they didn’t trust me like they should have.
“That’s the reality because they kept buying goalkeepers to go in front of me and I was the goalkeeper from the academy.
“When I was on a high, I still felt like they didn’t deserve me because of the way they were treating me. They couldn’t guarantee me the games I needed so I thought that if they couldn’t guarantee me the games I needed, then I’m moving on.