The goalkeeper for Aston Villa and Argentina, Emiliano Martínez, has addressed the criticism surrounding his post-World Cup celebrations with France’s Kylian Mbappé. Martinez was the hero of the final match, saving two penalty kicks to help Argentina win its first World Cup since 1986. His celebrations, however, were mocked since he was accused of ridiculing Mbappé.
In an interview with France Football, Martínez stated that he has “great respect” for Mbappé, despite being caught clutching a Mbappé toy during the celebration. He said that he only held the doll for two minutes before discarding it and that he could never make fun of Mbappé, who scored four goals against him in the championship game.
The Aston Villa star also enjoyed a moment with Mbappé after the final, during which he told the French striker that he should be proud of himself and have his head held high since he had played a magnificent game and was one of the finest players in the world. Mbappé refused to comment on Martínez’s behavior but said he would never get over France’s final loss.
Martínez added that throughout the celebratory ride, numerous toys with Mbappé’s likeness were hurled at them, including one that landed at his feet. He picked it up for a few seconds before tossing it back, adding that he could never make fun of Mbappé because he scored four goals against him in the championship match. He also stated that he told Mbappé after the final that he was the finest French player he had ever seen.
Martínez’s actions were widely criticized, but they did not generate tension between Messi and Mbappé on the Paris Saint-Germain team. Despite the intense competition, the two teammates apparently left their emotions on the field.