Monday, November 29

Draw Martínez, the last jewel in the Santoro showcase



Emiliano «Dibu» Martínez was discovered by the general public when monopolizing the spotlight in the penalty shootout of the Argentina-Colombia match, which gave the pass to the final to the Albiceleste team in the America Cup. In that round ,dra used a “lively talk” directed at the rival who was about to shoot him in order to de-center him and influence his shot. The scene, which went viral, ended with the result that the goalkeeper was looking for by causing the error in several pitchers.

Today, already champion with Messi’s Argentina after defeating Brazil in Maracana at dawn on Sunday, Emiliano Martínez has crossed the goal that, as a child, he dreamed of leaving Mar del Plata bound for Avellaneda to escape poverty through the ball. His gifts did not go unnoticed for Pepé Santoro, the legendary Hercules goalkeeper from the seventies, today the right hand of the president of Independiente, a club in which he has been linked all his life with the sole exception of his time in Alicante. Santoro only needed a few minutes to advise the club to stay with that young man with good looks, interesting reflections and endless illusion to succeed.

Draw’s progression in the school of Red was remarkable. Shortly afterwards he was summoned by Tata Brown for the youth team that had to play the South American U-17 in Chile and his qualities did not go unnoticed by the Arsenal scouts, who summoned him to London to undergo a test in the presence of Arsene Wenger. The goalkeeper traveled there accompanied by Santoro, who, after obtaining the approval of Wenger, exercised his last function with Martínez before the young man’s doubts about separating from his family. «It is a unique opportunity that you must take advantage of. If you miss, you bring your mom; when your mom gets tired, you bring your dad; he gets tired and your brother comes … and that’s how you get used to it ».

The young goalkeeper continued to mature, was loaned on several occasions by Arsenal, he even played for Getafe until he was transferred to Aston Vila for 25 million euros. And it was summoned by Argentina. He himself had warned Santoro: “Pepé, the day I pick up the selection I won’t let go of it anymore.” And so it happened. Today he is one of the goalkeepers with the most poster in the Premier and a great protagonist of the champion Argentina in Brazil. And grateful to Pepé Santoro, the ex-keeper of Hercules who opened the door for him in Independiente, the same one who marked his steps to London, whose instinct to point out precious stones and the ability to polish them is easily verifiable. Faith of the latter came to be given by the also remembered Pepe Rivera, a proud defender and companion in his time in Alicante, who, as technical secretary of Recreativo de Huelva and on the advice of Santoro, consummated the signing of Mariano Pernía, a left-handed side that them Huelva transferred for a millionaire amount to Atlético de Madrid and that, after becoming nationalized, became international with Spain.

His clinical eye on football has been one of the constants of his professional life. Without going any further, being a player in Hercules, he advised the signing of Giuliano, Comisso, Saccardi and Charles, four of the best foreigners who have defended that shirt. In fact, at Independiente he is still part of the staff and is the confidant of its president. Curiously, after forty years of absence, Santoro returned to Alicante in February of last year to visit his grandson, who had settled in the city a year earlier. He was forced to extend his visit and had to stay for several months in a rented apartment to coincide with the state of alarm caused by the pandemic.

During that period, he was heard a statement putting himself at the service of Hercules for when he wanted to explore the Argentine market. In any normal club, such an offer, more than an honor, would be a luxury. But the Hercules has been far from normal for many years. It is even risky to think that someone inside would get to know who Santoro is. And so it has.


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