Argentina’s quirky goalkeeper with his angry expressions has been nicknamed Dibu after a 1990s family telenovela that centers on a ‘cartoon boy’ as the protagonist.
Mi familia es un dibujo was Argentina’s first live action animated soap opera that ran from 1996 to 1998, in which an animated child is born into a multi-generational family.
According to sportingnews, “Martinez’s nickname ‘Dibu’ (short for Dibujo) comes from his early days at Independiente. It refers to his alleged resemblance to a character from the Argentinian cartoon telenovela Mi familia es un dibujo and he has carried it with him ever since.”
The 30-year-old made his international debut quite late at the age of 29, but is a lively, expressive figure under the crossbar. He will be of paramount importance in their final against a French team brimming with forwards, even if all eyes will be on the other side with Messi chasing World Cup glory.
Stories for subscribers only
However, Martinez has become something of a cult hero among Argentine fans, thanks to his expansive persona. “Martinez emerged as a late bloomer for Argentina with his international debut as a 29-year-old in 2021. Scaloni was unconvinced by Willy Caballero, following Sergio Romero’s retirement, and Martinez’s emergence at Villa caught his eye. ‘ wrote Sports News.
As the telenovela dealt with the animated child’s adjustment issues with non-animated children, Martinez’s own struggles broke into the Albiceleste and bided its time. “Martinez’s trademark resilience was shown from the start of his Argentine career: he accepted a call-up after two previous false allegations with the national team, following Scaloni’s show of confidence. Neither has looked back since, as he was thrown in at the deep end in June 2021 in a World Cup qualifier before cementing his No. 1 spot for the Copa America,” Sportingnews wrote.
Animated with antics as he saves penalties and bobs around under the crossbar, chuckling, muttering, celebrating and swearing, Martinez packs quite a show, making him a fan favorite.
He got off to a slow start with the national team, but his run through the title-winning Copa to this World Cup final was pretty dramatic. “Martinez has built a reputation for seizing opportunities that come his way, and he endeared himself in the eyes of Argentinian fans after his penalty-saving antics on his way to winning the trophy last year,” Sportingnews wrote.
The telenovela, meanwhile, ran for 85 episodes and spawned movie spin-offs and musicals. Dibu’s popularity only continued to grow, and Martínez, who was 6 when the series started, has brought the legend of the cartoon to the fore.
Lower levels of Eng in 2012
Ten years ago, when Messi scored 93 goals in a single season at the Camp Nou, Martinez was still playing for Oxford United in England’s lower echelons. He arrived in England and left Argentina at the age of 17 to join the Gunners in January 2012. But after a goalkeeping crisis at Oxford, he was loaned out to the football league.
Having cracked the first team as first-choice goalkeeper just before the Copa, Martinez had quickly impressed Messi. He saved three penalties from Colombia and let Messi flow. “It was a difficult game, but we deserved the win. We had to dig deep sometimes when they came at us, but we have ‘Dibu’ and he is a phenomenon. I am very happy for him, he deserves it,” said Messi against TyC Sports.