Atlanta United

Josef Martinez on his relationship with Atlanta United: "This is my home"

Lizzy Becherano
Josef Martinez on the expectations of the 2022 season with Atlanta United
Josef Martinez on the expectations of the 2022 season with Atlanta United / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

Josef Martinez has his sights set on the 2022 Major League Soccer season, preparing for the daunting challenges that come with being Atlanta United’s front man. While the expectations are high, Martinez is no stranger to breaking records under pressure. 

Since joining the Eastern Conference club in 2017, the Venezuelan has gone on to win the league’s Golden Boot and become the first player to win All-Star, League and MLS Cup MVP honors in the same season.

After a severe ACL injury that almost forced the player into retirement, Martinez came back stronger to stand as the fastest player in MLS history to reach 100 goals. 

In an exclusive interview with 90min, Josef Martinez explained the importance of kicking off another season with the club he calls “home.”

What are the expectations going into the 2022 season?

I’m sure it will be a difficult year, like the ones in the past. But we will try to fight until the end, all teams will. We still have a couple of days to prepare, but for now we are focusing on tone and improving every day. 

Last season was full of ups and downs, ending with the arrival of Gonzalo Pineda - what changed for you when he arrived?

Not much, but I do think the atmosphere changed back to what it was originally, the joy and feel of being relevant in the decision making process. I didn’t change in the sense that we were always one united team, and we maintained on the same page. 

Last season we saw some things change, and prior to the arrival in this case we had both ups and downs. Sometimes the situation wasn’t great but in football, like life, one always strives to be better and above everything. 

You’ve become an emblematic figure for Atlanta United, how does that impact you?

It’s complicated, you have to give 100 percent always. It’s a big responsibility, and an extra pressure at times. There is always this responsibility that falls on a well performing player.  

But as I do, I will continue to give my best input and as a team we will all work towards our collective goal and all give our best. 

I will continue to try to make people support the team, because we live off of the fans. They have always been with us, through the good and bad, so I will work to give them the confidence and joy in watching us and repay them for the energy they provide.

What does this club mean to you?

I have always given 100 percent. The club doesn’t owe me anything, and I don’t owe them anything, but I think what we have accomplished is mutual. 

Beyond the errors of just one person or another, this is a day-to-day relationship. I know it’s difficult to lead a club, and maintain the same group of players. It’s complicated. But this is my home. I try, and will try, to always be my best version. I try to help as much as possible because we are a group. It’s not just about one player, it’s about all of us. 

I don’t know how long I will last, but one would always like to live and die in one place. But while I am here, I am going to give everything to this club and enjoy every minute. Because when one retires, they only have the memories left.