Erskine Park’s Emilio Martinez has achieved a dream, signing a one-year scholarship contract with the Western Sydney Wanderers.
Martinez, a foundation member for the Wanderers, signed the contract on his 18th birthday, capping a massive year spent at the coveted Nike Academy in the UK.
Despite interest from several European clubs, he said his first choice was to sign with the Wanderers.
“It’s just what they’re all about and the bond the fans have with the players as well as Popa [coach Tony Popovic],” Martinez said.
“He’s fantastic, probably the best coach I’ve ever had purely because he gets the best out of you.”
An attacking midfielder, Martinez said it had been a steep learning curve since arriving at the club.
“Jumping into the first team at a young age, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do and now it just takes time to adapt,” he said.
“I find that I’m doing well, I know I can do a lot better but that comes with time.
“The step from youth football to men’s football is huge so you’ve got to adapt to that and then see if I can get an appearance somewhere in the season.”
Martinez was selected the Australian winner of Most Wanted competition and said his year at the Nike Academy based at St George’s Park National Football Centre in the UK was a fantastic experience.
“When I got there, I was blown away by how professional it was and the facilities as well,” he said.
“It’s what’s made me the player I am today and it’s probably the reason I signed here because I’ve grown so much over the past year.”
A St Clair Strikers junior, Martinez also played for Marconi, Blacktown Spartans and Parramatta FC in the NPL before moving to England before his 17th birthday.
After a massive year, Martinez said he’s willing to pay his dues to get on the park to represent the Wanderers.
“My feet are firmly planted on the ground and I know I need to work hard in order to even get on the bench,” he said.
“That comes with time but wherever I need to play, I’ll do it to 100% of my ability.”