Argentina and Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, who was in the eye of the storm due to his antics after winning the World Cup especially with his taunting of French star Kylian Mbappe, recently said that he did not target 24-year-old during the celebrations.
Martinez was filmed carrying a doll with Mbappé’s face on it while standing alongside teammate Lionel Messi as Argentina paraded the trophy back home.
“I held it (doll) for like two minutes and I threw it away, that’s all. How can I make fun of Mbappe? He scored four past me. Four goals in a final! He must think I am his toy baby! I have huge respect for Mbappe,” the 30-year-old said in an interview with France Football.
Martinez, who also made a crude gesture after winning the Golden Glove award for best goalkeeper, was also filmed mocking Mbappé in the team dressing room after the game.
“It’s a locker room thing. It should never have come out. When France beat us in 2018, I remember there were chants about Messi [involving N’Golo Kante]. Same thing, if a team beats Brazil, they’ll be singing about Neymar,” he said when asked about it.
“There’s nothing personal against Mbappe. I respect him a lot. If people sing about him or Neymar, it’s because they are top players. After the final, I told him that it was a pleasure to play against him and that he almost won the match on his own. I had confirmation that he has immense talent. When Messi retires, I am sure Kylian will win many Ballon d’Or awards,” he added.