Lisandro Martínez is a fan-favorite at Manchester United and a World Champion with Argentina. And at only 25 years old, the sky seems to be the limit for the rising star of two very big teams. But somehow, Martínez keeps his feet very firmly on the ground.
Remezcla caught up with him, right as Manchester United was preparing for their match against Real Madrid on the US pre-season tour, and discussed not just his time at Manchester United, but also the experience of winning a World Cup with Argentina, and even what it takes to safeguard your mental health as an elite athlete.
Wearing the newly announced Manchester United away kit, which revisits a design synonymous with the club in its infancy – Martinez looked right at home in vertical green and white stripes. And it’s only a step away from Martínez’s normal Albiceleste of the Argentinian national team; colors that brought Martínez so much joy just a few months ago when Argentina was crowned World Champions for the third time, and the first in Martínez’s lifetime.
For Martínez, that was the big dream, and he’s had to work really hard on taking stock of the fact that he did it. It happened. “A lot of the times it happens that fútbol players don’t know how to win,” he shared. “Winning gives you a lot,” he added, “but one needs stability.”
“You are not too great when you win, nor too bad when you lose.” Instead, Martínez was adamant that there’s got to be a balance so that the wins don’t go to your head, and so you remember that “a lot of hard work went into getting to where you got.”
But, for Martínez, it’s not just about hard work, it’s about a good environment, and that’s something he talked extensively about, not just for what he achieved with his Argentina teammates, but what he’s now creating at Manchester United.
“The energies inside the locker room, in the club, have changed a lot. Everyone’s happy here, wherever they get to be. When you start achieving that, you start winning, and everything starts falling into place. First you need the group. If you don’t get along with a teammate, you’re not going to win,” he told us. “You have to create an environment with good energies, where there’s more love than hate.”
Martínez went on to say, “How are you going to win if you’re forever upset that someone else is playing well, that someone else won? Good groups win great things, that’s the truth.”
It wasn’t always so for Martínez at Manchester United. His first few months at the club were rocky, with some questioning if he had what it took to succeed in the Premier League, particularly due to his height. But Martinez didn’t let what people were saying affect him. Instead, he kept his head down and put in the work.
“You can’t let what people are saying affect you, otherwise it starts to affect your game. The thing I did, and it might even help someone, if people out there are trying to make them feel like they can’t do something, which is what they were trying to make me feel, is to do therapy,” Martínez explained.
He went deeper on this very personal topic and said, “Every time people ask me, I say therapy. Do therapy. Because one keeps a lot of stuff in, and can explode. So, therapy, and create a line of work, don’t let anyone in. Just work, and test yourself against what you think, no one else.”
The advice must have come in handy as Martínez and his Argentina teammates celebrated an unprecedented World Cup title that has catapulted Argentina into a level of stardom that now sees Argentina jerseys everywhere. So much so that it’s gotten to the point where Martínez has noticed the shift during this US pre-season tour.
It’s not just Messi anymore – back when Argentina won the World Cup. Adidas didn’t just run out of the Argentinian star’s jerseys, but generic team jerseys as well. And this shift in the sport and popularity within the U.S. and beyond is welcome. “Winning a World Cup means that people even in other countries identify with us,” Martínez said. “We have created that connection with people, and that’s great, it’s great to see fans so connected with us.”
Great for his home team of Argentina, for his club Manchester United, and for the future of Lisandro Martínez, a player that is sure to make a name in both places for many years to come.
Catch Lisandro Martínez on the rest of the Manchester United US pre-season tour, where his team will next play on Sunday, July 30th against Borussia Dortmund.