Aston Villa star Emiliano Martinez has revealed it was his decision to leave Arsenal in the summer, explaining he ‘wanted to change’ after proving himself in the Premier League and winning the FA Cup.
The 28-year-old endured a frustrating eight-year stint with the Gunners, where he was shipped out on loan six times to gain match experience. His time in north London produced a fairytale ending however, as he starred in the final nine league games of the season and helped them win the FA Cup and Community Shield.
That rise from failure to success convinced Martinez to leave Arsenal in the summer and he has stressed that he came to the decision himself, under no influence from the club.
“At no time did they tell me that I was not going to play or that I was. It was not a losing battle, because I showed my level, but it was my decision to go through the front door,” Martinez told ESPN Argentina.
“Nobody told me to stay or go. Nobody told me I was going to be number one or two. It was purely my decision. I thank Mikel for letting me go and supporting me in my decision.
“I wanted to change. I think I succeeded, because I left with two titles under my arm and playing every game in one of the best clubs in the world.
“I did not leave as a failure, I left super happy, but in the end, you want to change your scene after ten years at the club, from so much fighting. I showed what I had to do and that they could have given me the opportunity a little earlier. But I left very happy.”
The Argentinian shot-stopper was pivotal to the side which won the FA Cup and he stated that his outpouring of emotion at the final whistle was not through joy, but a release from the suffering he had endured in north London.
“Yes, [I was crying] not for having won a final, but for having overcome my frustrations at a professional level at Arsenal,” he said. “There were many years of suffering and having a bad time for not having my chance.
“Not because I didn’t deserve it, but because they didn’t give it to me. At that moment all the bad Sundays that I have spent when I was not summoned at the club came to me, or I went on loan to places I did not want to go because I needed games.
“They never sent me on loan to get me out, but to improve me. That’s why they kept me at the club for so long, because they saw something in me. When I won the cup, I took out the anger that I had inside.
“I am an emotional boy and everything I do I do for my family and that is why those tears came to my eyes.”