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Player Profiles: Carlos Martins  

Carlos MartinsFull name: Carlos Jorge Neto Martins

Position: Midfielder

Date of Birth: 29 April 1982

Birthplace: Oliveira do Hospital, Portugal

It is not easy to shake a negative reputation. Sometimes the only solution is to leave one’s surroundings altogether in order to start anew. That is exactly what happened to Carlos Martins. The enigmatic midfielder, of undoubted talent but suspect temperament, had to leave Portugal in order to find himself. He is now starting to rewrite chapters in his career in a positive frame of mind.

Martins, a two-footed attack-minded midfielder, came through the Sporting ranks and made his professional debut with the senior squad at age 18 in 2000. Martins made just one appearance for Sporting before he was relegated to the club’s B team. Perhaps a sign of things to come, Martins fell out with B team coach, Jean Paul, and was shipped off to the club’s now defunct affiliate club, Sporting Clube Campmaoirense.

Returning to a Sporting team who would win the championship, Portuguese Cup and Supercup that year, Martins made six appearances under the then coach Lazlo Boloni. During this short period the young midfielder played alongside up-and-coming wingers of promise Cristiano Ronaldo and Ricardo Quaresma.

Although showing he had all the tools to become one of Portugal’s top footballers, Boloni decided to loan him out again, this time to Academica de Coimbra. Academica proved a good period for Martins, and his excellent form earned him a definitive return to Sporting.

Flashes of brilliance

A succession of coaches – Boloni, Fernando Santos, Jose Peseiro and Paulo Bento – all utilized Martins to a greater of lesser extent, but although the player showed occasional flashes of brilliance, he lacked consistency and was all too often let down by a fiery attitude, as well as proving to be somewhat injury prone.

Things came to a head in 2007 as Martins and coach Paulo Bento had a very public feud, with Martins later confessing the situation was so intense between the two that their failure to see eye-to-eye almost came to blows.

Martins was transferred to Spanish club Recreativo Huelva on a four-year deal which saw the Portuguese side retain 40% ownership of the player. The move did wonders for Martins. Putting to bed his bouts of indiscipline, Martins had a stellar year in La Liga with Recreativo. The Portuguese midfielder was dubbed the Estadio Nuevo Colombino’s “Steven Gerrard” and he made more appearances than any other player in the squad (32), scoring a career high six goals.

His exploits were taken note of by Sporting’s city rivals, Benfica, whose new Spanish coach Quique Flores made the player one of his first priorities. After only one year in La Liga the Eagles tied the now 29-year-old to a five-year deal, costing 3m euros and writing a 20m euro buyout clause into the contract.

More mature

Martins was delighted to make the switch and feels his time in Spain has helped him shed the negative stigma he created at the start of his career. “I feel wanted at Benfica as they believe in me. I had an important year (at Huelva) as I played at a high level and because of it I am more mature. I expect to win titles at Benfica.”  

During his first two seasons at Benfica, Martins played regularly, despite periods of absence through injury. Nevertheless, he managed to become an integral part of the team, particularly on Jorge Jesus' vintage championship team in 2009/10. The following season, Martins was not used quite as often and he asked for a move away from the club, this time on loan to Granada in August 2011.

There Martins felt wanted once again and proved a useful addition. Not only did he manage to play more often, but his stint at the club gave Portugal manager Paulo Bento further reason to keep believing in his capabilities. Despite his son's delicate health condition (and a brief period away from football), Martins was able to keep his focus and stay on course.

 

by Marco Pereira and Vasco Mota Pereira (16/05/2012)

Club Appearances* Goals
Campormairorense 27  1 
Sporting 75 10
Academica 9  0
Recreativo Huelva 32  6
Benfica 66  6
 Granada 28   3
 PORTUGAL** 15 2

* League appearances only

** Up to 16 May 2012

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