Mighty-mite Martinez brings fighting spirit to Salt Lake
Real Salt Lake first-round draft pick Enzo Martinez just might be a coach’s dream.
After all, he’s talented, he’s won at every level at which he’s competed and he’s saying all the right things. And, by all accounts, he’s sincere and genuine about what he says.
“It’s an opportunity to do what I love and play for the best team in the league, and I’m ready for that,” Martinez told MLSsoccer.com via phone. “I’m not even fazed about moving to a place that I don’t know anything about. I would go anywhere in the world if Real Salt Lake was there.”
Martinez feels that he’s already been adopted into the RSL family, and that’s what has him feeling so passionate about his new club.
“The whole staff of Real Salt Lake has made me feel so welcome,” he said in the days after he was selected last week with the 17th pick in the draft. “And I feel like they were happy to have me. That’s all I could ask. That’s all I wanted. I wanted a team to draft me that would be happy to have me and will believe in me.
“I haven’t even been to Real Salt Lake, but they’ve just made me feel so welcome to the family that they have built.”
Martinez, who was born in Uruguay before he immigrated to the US and starred collegiately for North Carolina, also knows his place in the pecking order as he prepares to undertake his first preseason training as a professional.
“All of the players that are there are fighting for the same thing as me,” he said. “I have to go there and start from the bottom as I did in club, as I did in high school, as I did in college. You start from the bottom and work your way up.”
In refreshing fashion, the RSL prospect says that he is choosing to ignore the fact that he is already signed to a Generation adidas contract.
“I don’t think about Generation adidas right now,” he said. “I’m going there with a mentality that I don’t have anything yet, because I don’t have anything yet. I’m going not with a guarantee mentality, but with a mentality that I have to fight every day because I haven’t done anything for Real Salt Lake yet.”
After all, fighting for everything is in his blood, as Uruguayans are often noted for the fighting spirit that they call La Garra Charrúa. Martinez, who at 5-foot-7 and 145 pounds was one of the smallest players taken in the draft last week, is hopeful that it’s that mentality that will allow him to make his mark on and off the field.
“We just have this drive,” he said. “And that’s what I hope I’m known for – that I work. I work, and I’ll do anything for the jersey that I’m wearing.”
Martinez and his new teammates will report to camp on Jan. 25 for physicals before starting their preseason training.
It seems Martinez, for one, already has a plan of attack.
“I’m just going to go there and work my heart out and leave everything for the team,” he said. “I know that if I do those things all the rest will come in place.”