Martinez keen to follow in Rogic's footsteps

Australian Nike Academy member Emilio Martinez is out to follow the path travelled by former contestants Tom Rogic and Devante Clut and become a professional footballer.

Martinez was picked to be Australia’s representative at the Nike Academy in the UK and then last month was named as of the six winners from around the world.

Socceroo and Celtic midfielder Tom Rogic, along with Brisbane Roar attacker Devante Clut previously came through the competition and the progress of both those players has inspired the teenager.

“The Nike Academy has shown that, especially for Australian players because we have such a good rep there, it shows that it can happen,” Martinez told FourFourTwo.

“It’s a platform where it gives you that motivation, that drive to try even harder that you already would because you know that things are possible as long as you’re willing to work for it.

“Knowing that both those boys are from NSW and they’ve gone to become professional players, it’s something I aspire to as well, to be another one of those. It gives you that extra push.”

The 16-year old Sydneysider got into football at the age of five through his father, but it was the 2006 World Cup that fully prompted his love of the game.

“I got into football through my Dad, he loves football as well,” Martinez said.

“Since then nothing’s stopped me. I’ve just progressed my way up. There’s been a lot of setbacks but it’s only made me the player I am today.”

Martinez started playing for St Clair Strikers as a child and spent five seasons with Marconi. He played Under-16s with Blacktown Spartans and most recently Under-18s with the Parramatta Eagles.

Martinez originally found out about the Nike Academy through Facebook.

“I did it the year before prior and I knew what it was about,” he said.

“Out of 640 applicants they picked 60. I flew down to Melbourne for two day for the trials and I got in. There was one ticket to St Georges Park for the 60 boys and I was very fortunate to get that.

“I headed to the UK on April for trials. On that fourth day we found out the winners and I was one of the six from the 30 from around the world. It was such a huge shock. It’s happened so quickly over the last three months.

“It was amazing. Just to get to the UK was a big achievement for me because I proved I was good enough. It really gave me the belief that I could go all the way. Then I was there I came into my own, I played my game, I was confident.

“I was one of the younger ones but I was an English-speaking boy so it was easier for me than some of the others.  I couldn’t believe I actually did it. So I am still flying and up in the clouds at the moment.”

A number 10 or a box-to-box midfielder, Martinez’s target is to play in Europe and become a professional footballer. The ambitious teenager heads back to England on July 4 and plans to be in the UK as long as it takes to earn a professional contract.

“My long-term ambition is to become a professional footballer and I’ve known that since I was eight years old,” Martinez said.

“I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. This is my profession and I know that one day it will happen. I just need to control the things I can – training, getting stronger, smarter, only getting better. I know one day it will eventually happen.

“Playing in Europe has always been a dream of mine and I’m not going to settle for anything less until I achieve that goal.”