Javier Martinez is an experienced pro, but even he was surprised at the scale of the reception awaiting him at his official unveiling on Thursday. Some 100 reporters crowded into the Allianz Arena media centre to witness the 23-year-old, looking relaxed, snappily dressed and oozing calm authority, take his first public bow in Munich. “I'm really relieved to be here at last," he said.
After the 45-minute media session, during which the player was flanked by board director for sport Matthias Sammer and head coach Jupp Heynckes, Martinez took to the hallowed Allianz Arena turf for the first time, posing in his number eight shirt for the photographers. Suddenly, a group of 50 schoolkids taking a stadium tour shouted “Martínez!" from high up in the North Stand, causing Javi to beam from ear to ear.
In the dressing room, Martinez then spoke exclusively to FCB.tv. A portrait of each Bayern star hangs over the corresponding player’s locker, and the new arrival could not stop himself gazing around in admiration. It was almost as if the realisation had only just dawned that he would very soon be joining the likes of Franck Ribéry, Arjen Robben, Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger in this very place.
“It's a dream come true. This huge arena, these facilities. It couldn't be better," said Martinez, still wearing the new number eight shirt he had earlier received from Heynckes and Sammer. “I can hardly wait to put on this shirt in a match. It's a fantastic feeling to be here," the Spaniard said.
The process of signing one of Spanish football’s brightest young prospects was long and complex. “All credit to the management, to Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Karl Hopfner and our lawyer Dr Michael Gerlinger. Completing this transfer is a magnificent feat," commented Sammer. Heynckes said he was “simply delighted" that the player the club always wanted has now arrived.
The coach, who had already targeted the Spaniard in his time as Leverkusen boss, was fulsome in his praise on Thursday. “I'm totally convinced by him. He has authority, a big personality, and embodies exactly the attributes you need for his position in the modern game. He has enormous potential as a defender and he’s outstanding in the air. He reads a game brilliantly as well." As Sammer said in conclusion: “As a footballer and a character, he’s a perfect match to our requirements."
Heynckes is planning to use the new arrival in defensive midfield, but Javi is also an option at centre back, where he most recently played for Athletic Bilbao. “I have no preference. The coach will decide," the 23-year-old said. Heynckes is certain the Spain international will be “very valuable. It's important we piece together our puzzle. And he's a crucial piece of the jigsaw."
The first challenge facing Martinez is to settle into his new club and adopted hometown. The player managed one short sentence in German at his unveiling, but he is not really comfortable outside his native Spanish for the time being. He intends to work hard on his German and English, he said: “I'm uncomplicated, I'll soon find good friends here and feel at home.”
Motivated by sizeable fee
He will benefit from the support of his family, who were proudly seated in the audience for Thursday's news conference. Coach Heynckes also has a crucial role. “The fact he speaks Spanish is a huge help," said Martinez, who insisted he is not burdened by the record transfer fee paid by the club. “It's actually a boost to my motivation," he said, “it's a dream come true, because I'm playing for one of the three best clubs in the world."