David Martin unique interview: The lengthy highway to West Ham by way of Liverpool, MK Dons and Millwall | Soccer Information


David Martin made his West Ham debut at the age of 33 in November

David Martin made his West Ham debut on the age of 33 in November

David Martin remembers kickabouts with Julian Dicks and Ian Bishop at West Ham’s coaching floor. He remembers the odor of burgers and cigarettes at Upton Park. He remembers the roar of the gang when his father, Alvin, lifted him onto his shoulders after their promotion in 1991.

West Ham is in his blood – “I used to be born into it,” he tells Sky Sports activities – however lately he is the one sporting the shirt and his father’s the one watching on from the stands. Their emotional embrace after his debut at Stamford Bridge in November confirmed how a lot it means to them.

“It is nonetheless probably not sunk in now,” he says, talking from his residence by way of video name. “The opposite day I used to be out doing a motorbike experience and it hit me once more: ‘I’ve made my debut for my dream membership, in opposition to Chelsea, and saved a clear sheet’. The hug with dad was a bit emotional and a bit embarrassing, nevertheless it was simply nice to share it with him. It is one thing I would dreamt of.”

It is one thing he may simply have given up on too.

Martin needed to wait till he was 33 to signify West Ham for the primary time. His father, the previous centre-back, had made almost 500 appearances on the identical age. However Martin Jnr’s highway from the terraces to the first-team was lengthy and winding. It took him from Liverpool to Leicester, from Milton Keynes to Millwall.

David Martin is congratulated by his West Ham team-mates at Stamford Bridge

David Martin is congratulated by his West Ham team-mates at Stamford Bridge

He did not even change into a goalkeeper till the age of 14. “I used to be a centre-back at Tottenham on the time,” he says. “I would at all times been put in that place due to my dad. However each time they wanted a goalie, I would at all times put my hand up. I beloved it, diving at folks’s toes and the remainder of it.”

It wasn’t simple telling his father that he needed to alter place – “it was a tricky dialog,” he says – however Martin Snr supported the choice and shortly set him up with after-school teaching classes with Les Sealy, West Ham’s former goalkeeping coach. “That place to begin with Les was the most important assist I’ve had from dad,” he says.

Martin joined Wimbledon, who grew to become MK Dons, and from there, just a few years after deciding to change into a goalkeeper, he earned a transfer to Liverpool. “It was surreal,” he says. “I used to be 19 and I bear in mind entering into on the primary day and bumping into Steven Gerrard within the hall.”

It was an exhilarating expertise for a younger participant making his manner within the sport, however his time on Merseyside was not with out its challenges.

David Martin poses with his father, Alvin, after signing for West Ham

David Martin poses together with his father, Alvin, after signing for West Ham

“It was in all probability the hardest time of my profession, mentally,” says Martin.

“I used to be initially signed as a reserves goalkeeper, however they did not have a goalkeeping coach for the reserves on the time, so a number of it was coaching with the outfield gamers in possession drills and video games. It was in all probability a blessing in disguise as a result of it taught me to get my first contact proper, to get into the fitting physique place. However the first 18 months had been actually powerful.”

Mortgage spells at Accrington Stanley, Leicester and Tranmere adopted, however Martin’s persistence didn’t waver. There have been occasional first-team appearances on the bench again at Liverpool, and it wasn’t lengthy earlier than his progress was seen by Rafael Benitez’s goalkeeping coach Xavi Valero, who he has since been reunited with at West Ham.

“I went on the pre-season tour to Hong Kong in 2009, simply by default as a result of that they had introduced in a Bulgarian goalkeeper who could not get a piece allow,” he says. “After that, Xavi informed Rafa to maintain me on as third alternative. It was powerful – the usual was unbelievable – however that season modified all of it for me. It put me in good stead for the remainder of my profession.”

2:10
Jamie Carragher discusses Declan Rice’s finest place on The Soccer Present

Jamie Carragher discusses Declan Rice’s finest place on The Soccer Present

On the finish of it, he returned to MK Dons on a everlasting deal to change into their No 1, staying there for seven seasons – “I beloved my time at MK,” he says – earlier than becoming a member of Millwall in 2017. He made that transfer figuring out he could be beginning out as second alternative – “a leap of religion,” is how he describes it – however when he did lastly get his probability close to the top of final season, his performances had been spectacular sufficient to take him to West Ham.

Martin signed a two-year contract on the London Stadium in June, however as soon as once more he needed to bide his time for a possibility to play. When Lukasz Fabianski was sidelined by an harm in September, it was Roberto who initially acquired the nod. However the Spaniard’s struggles quickly opened the door for Martin to make his bow on that memorable night time at Stamford Bridge, the place his saves had been very important in securing a 1-Zero win.

“Clearly my dad and my household had been there, however I had pals within the stands too,” he says. “It is my membership and to be in entrance of these supporters shouting my identify just about throughout the sport gave me goosebumps. When the ultimate whistle went, I simply thought, ‘I’ve completed it. We have gained. And I’ve not let anybody down’.”

Martin views the Chelsea sport because the standout second of his profession to this point, however he took simply as a lot satisfaction from his second clear sheet within the 1-Zero win over Southampton at St Mary’s Stadium two weeks later. “That meant loads to me as nicely, retaining one other clear sheet at a time after we had been below stress,” he says.

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West Ham supervisor David Moyes reveals his soccer firsts

West Ham supervisor David Moyes reveals his soccer firsts

He’s grateful to Manuel Pellegrini for giving him the prospect.

“We performed the Chelsea sport on the Saturday and we had been again in for coaching on the Sunday,” he says. “I used to be on cloud 9. However after I was pulling my boots on to exit and prepare once more, he sat down subsequent to me and mentioned, ‘David, there is a saying in horse racing: any horse can win any race. The nice horses win time and again’. It put the stress again on me. I used to be at all times chasing that subsequent clear sheet.”

An sadly timed hip harm saved Martin out of West Ham’s subsequent few video games. Fabianski has since returned to motion and the membership have additionally changed Roberto with Darren Randolph to supply further competitors. However Martin stays an influential determine within the dressing room, his dedication and willpower setting an instance to the remainder of the squad.

The goalkeeping line-up shouldn’t be all that has at West Ham modified since Martin’s final begin. Pellegrini has been changed by David Moyes and Randolph was not the one January signing. However Valero, who counts Actual Madrid and Inter Milan amongst his former golf equipment in addition to Liverpool, stays their goalkeeping coach and he has saved Martin busy throughout lockdown.

David Martin celebrates his second clean sheet against Southampton

David Martin celebrates his second clear sheet in opposition to Southampton

“Xavi might be among the best goalkeeping coaches on the earth, and I am not simply saying that,” he says. “He has saved on high of us, giving us issues we have to evaluation and issues to work on. It is laborious to coach by yourself as a goalkeeper as a result of you possibly can’t precisely hearth photographs at your self, except you are kicking a ball in opposition to a wall, which is not precisely practical.

“However a number of goalkeeping lately is about footwork and positioning. You possibly can maintain that stuff up by yourself and I really feel match and sharp in that respect. Once we do return into contact coaching, each time that could be, will probably be fascinating to see what kind of impact that has. I really feel prepared for it due to the work we now have been doing.”

It’s prone to be Fabianski who begins in purpose when the Premier League returns and West Ham resume their battle in opposition to relegation. However Martin might be prepared when known as upon and nothing will dampen his enthusiasm.

“Even now, I’ve to pinch myself after I go into coaching and drive previous the West Ham badge,” he says. “It is nonetheless a surreal feeling and it means a lot to me and my household. I simply wish to take pleasure in each second of it.”

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