Talking Point

Happy 23rd Birthday Toni Martinez

Toni Martinez was born on 30th June 1997 in Barrio del Progreso, Murcia, Spain and began his career with hometown outfit Murcia before moving to Valencia. He played for Valencia’s B team in the Spanish third tier, scoring two goals in 16 games, before signing for West Ham for a fee of £2.4m in July 2016. He had a spell on loan at League One Oxford, scoring three goals in 17 games. He also helped West Ham’s Under-23 side earn promotion to the top tier of the Premier League 2 competition.

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The 20-year-old Martinez made his Hammers first team debut as a substitute under David Moyes in a 0-0 FA Cup third round draw at Shrewsbury on 7th January 2018. The centre-forward helped the Irons to a 1-0 win in the replay, setting up Reece Burke’s winner. His third and final West Ham appearance came in the 2-0 FA Cup fourth round defeat at Wigan on 27th January 2018.

Martinez joined Spanish second tier side Real Valladolid on loan for the second half of the 2017/18 campaign, scoring one goal in 11 appearances. He spent the first half of the 2018/19 season on loan back in the Spanish second tier at Rayo Majadahonda and the second half of that campaign at Lugo in the same division, also on loan.

Martinez joined Portuguese side Famalicao last summer on a free transfer; the club had just been promoted to the Primeira Liga as runners-up in LigaPro, their first promotion to the top flight in a quarter of a century. He made his debut on 3rd August 2019 in the first round of the Taça da Liga, Portugal’s secondary cup competition, as a 59th-minute substitute in a 2-0 home loss to Covilha. He scored five minutes into his league debut for Famalicao away to Santa Clara the following week, his new side’s first goal back in the big time; they went on to win the match 2-0. Martinez scored three goals in three games between 30th October and 9th November, helping his side to a 2-1 home win over Gil Vicente, a 2-2 draw at Braga and a 3-3 home draw with Moreirense.

Martinez captained the side in a Taça de Portugal Placard (Portugal’s premier cup competition) third round match at home against Coimbra on 23rd November; he also scored the only goal of the game shortly before half-time. He scored in the next round too, in a 3-0 home win over Mafra, and Famalicao went on to win 1-0 away at Pacos Ferreira in the quarter-finals to claim their first appearance in the last four of the competition since 1946. They faced Benfica in a two-legged semi-final in February 2020 – Martinez scored in the first leg in a 3-2 defeat at the Estadio da Luz and scored again in the second leg. The match would end in a 1-1 draw though, with Benfica reaching the Final in a narrow victory on aggregate. Martinez had scored four goals in six matches in Famalicao’s run to the last four.

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Meanwhile, back in the league, Martinez had bagged the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win at Boavista on 11th January 2020 and scored a stoppage-time equaliser in a 1-1 home draw with Maritimo eight days later. He made it three goals in four games with another strike in a 2-2 draw at Rio Ave. Martinez scored Famalicao’s goal in a 2-1 defeat at Pacos Ferreira on 23rd February before captaining the side to a famous 3-1 home win over Sporting Lisbon on 3rd March. The Portuguese league restarted on 3rd June and Martinez was back on the goal trail last Wednesday in a 1-1 draw at Moreirense.

Martinez turns 23 today and has 13 goals in 34 matches in all competitions for Famalicao so far this season. His club currently sit fifth in the Primeira Liga in their first season following promotion; they have six matches left to play and will qualify for next season’s Europa League if they can hold on to fifth spot. Birthday boy Martinez and his side face relegation-threatened Portimonense this evening.