Josef Martinez finally addressed the media after head coach Gabriel Heinze left Atlanta United over mismanagement accusations.
Prior to his departure, Heinze caused chaos when forcing Martinez to train away from the team in an isolated manner for undisclosed reasons. Additional reports have emerged that reveal Heinze created a toxic atmosphere by limiting a player’s water intake during training and violating several CBA regulations.
After the Major League Soccer club announced the firing of the Argentine coach, Martinez turned to the media to express his thoughts.
“There are decisions you have to respect,” Martinez said. “As a leader and a face of this club, I have to be professional and support my teammates on and off the field. But what’s important to me is the health and joy in the locker room. Just to bring the joy back to the city, fanbase and ourselves. We need to get back to that way.”
In a sudden shift of tone, Martinez expressed the reason for his sentimental outlook on the situation and club.
“I’ve been here since the very beginning when there wasn’t even a field,” Martinez told media. “I’ve seen what we’ve built here, that’s why things have hurt me. I want to give my life to this club. The first time I came here I said this is my club, this is my city and I love to be here. I want to retire here. I love this club.”
Martinez first joined Atlanta United in 2017 on loan with a buying option for the expansion team. After his debut on 5 March, he became a sudden sensation and forced the club to activate the buyout clause for an undisclosed transfer fee.
In four years, Martinez has become a fan favorite and star image of Atlanta United.
“I get emotional,” Martinez said of the fan support. “Since I’ve been here, people have treated me like another son. When I’m on the field, I try to give my all to repay that love I receive from the fans. As long as I’m wearing an Atlanta United shirt, I’ll give my life for this team.”