The brains and brawn behind a resurgent Southern, Carles Marc Martinez has definitely made an impact since his arrival in Hong Kong. Making a name for himself in Hong Kong as a tough tackling, persistent yet fair player, he is now a key component of a very strong and ambitious Southern squad who could be involved in the title race come May.
Well-traveled and well-read with a genuine curiosity of the world around him, Martinez has settled well into Hong Kong life and has taken an instant liking to his new surroundings. It has been quite the journey for the Spanish midfielder from his humble beginnings in La Liga with Valencia as his career has taken him from Spain to Poland to Romania and now he has ended up in Hong Kong. This career evolution has taught him many life lessons and he would not swap all the ups and downs for anything.
Early on, the young boyhood fan lived the dreams of millions, by eventually having the chance to represent Valencia at senior level. In his own words, he wept tears of joy when, early in his career, he was on the senior team bus and was greeted by thousands of fans as they approached the stadium (a Valencia tradition). As a child, Martinez would have been in the crowd saluting the team bus himself and his hard work meant he could be afforded the same reception. Martinez realized he had finally ‘made it’.
As a true scholar athlete, not only does he tear up on the opposition on the football pitch, he is also a man of letters. Martinez has already obtained academic tertiary qualifications in sports science, competed a masters in sports nutrition and is about to complete yet another masters in sports psychology. This is a mark of a person who is clearly planning for the future when he transitions beyond the field of play.
In an exclusive interview, Martinez discussed his first impression of Hong Kong football and Southern’s title chances.
“It is interesting to come to this kind of league, as the football here is completely different from Europe. The weather here plays a large role for the condition of players, especially in these first few games and over the next few weeks when the weather is really hot. Also, the rhythm is not so great due to the heat, which does not allow us to play fast. nyway, it is very interesting for me to come and adapt and to perform well here. It is my biggest challenge so far”
Martinez said, even though Southern were ambitious, each game was crucial, but he is not thinking too far ahead.
“We are ambitious and we think we have a good team, but we do not think about titles at this moment as we want to work day by day and match by match. We just prepare for the next game and we do not want to think too far ahead.”
As a worldly person who is keen to see and experience different lifestyles and cultures, Martinez said he expected to arrive in Asia later in his career though was filled with anticipation when he realised that he could play in a city like Hong Kong.
“I was very excited, as I was waiting for a challenge like this and I have previously thought to go to Asia, but I thought I would come when I would be 31 or 32. However, I got the opportunity now and I took it. I said it was ‘my time’ and I want to do a good job in Asia while trying this new type of football and culture. I hope to stay in Asian football for several years.”
Martinez was aware of the Spanish connection in Hong Kong, especially at Kitchee, and sought advice from some of the players here.
“I knew about players like Belencoso and I spoke to Marcos de la Espada before I came to Hong Kong. He only told me good things about the place and the league, so I was happy to accept this challenge and come myself.”
“When I started my football career I didn’t think I would play outside of Spain. Back then, these were different times and the Spanish economy was great. Everyone had a job. In fhe first and second division of Spanish football players could make a lot of money, so there was no need to go abroad, but after the economy suffered in the West, a lot of Spanish players left to play outside. I was in Poland for three years and I also in Romania. I like to be out of Spain now, as I can explore other cultures. It is a great chance to improve yourself and I like it here, except that it is sometimes too hot.”
Always willing to improve both on and off the field, Marc is always willing to learn and loves to talk about politics, sports, books and movies. More than just a ‘footballer’, Martinez has brought a new dimension to Southern and Hong Kong football.