Tomás Martínez burst into the First Division with Ramón Díaz (victory by 3 to 1 against San Martín de San Juan, in June 2013) as one of the main projects of the lower millionaires and with active participation in the Argentine youth teams.
Although at first it was taken into account by Marcelo Gallardo, the change in the scheme of Doll and the determination to dispense with the hooks complicated his path. Given this panorama, the Beccar native began his adventures around the world. From the rise of Spain (Tenerife) to show flashes of his talent in Defense and Justice. Sporting Braga from Portugal to the Houston Dynamo, where he became one of the main figures in the team led by Tabaré Ramos.
Since 2017 it is one of the pillars of the franchise where basketball player James Harden is one of the owners (Another of the four owners is boxer Oscar De La Hoya). He was key in obtaining the US Open Cup in 2018 and has an interesting record: he has 14 goals and 11 assists in his 89 presentations.
In dialogue with Infobae, Tomás Martínez analyzed his time in River, remembered his walk through the youth teams and explained what it is like to play in the franchise of one of the most important sports personalities in the United States.
What objectives were outlined for this season?
A new coach came, who is a Uruguayan who spent 8 years with the United States Under 20 team and as a player played a World Cup with the United States (Tabaré Ramos). He has a different philosophy from that of the Colombian we had before (Wilmer Cabrera). We are adapting to his game philosophy, his way of playing. Your proposal is good. Here it is very difficult to play as a visitor, due to the change of weather and the schedule. It is like playing the Copa Libertadores all year. Here all the away matches, at least, are two hours away.
What surprised you about MLS?
It is a little different, because you travel a lot, with different climates. There you play in Houston with 40 degrees and you go to Colorado or Portland and there are 10 or 8 degrees. The country is very large, so the flights are very long. It is a tiring tournament, but at the same time you have many vacations. You play often, without stopping. It is a competitive league. The teams maintain a base, there is no River or Boca that makes too much difference. There are always 3 or 4 figures per team. You never know who is going to qualify for the playoffs and anyone can be champion. Although there are Los Angeles FC, who made a difference last year, then lost. In the playoffs they are all-or-nothing games. There are good teams and the league is betting more every day and adjusting things to improve. Before, players came to retire, but now they hire young people to make the leap, as happened with Almirón or Barco. The Argentine, Uruguayan, Chilean or Venezuelan is coming more here than to a league like Holland, for example. They seek to be a top league like in Europe.
How did your good relationship with Philippe Senderos start?
We both got together and did the medical check-up. From that moment we became very close friends. He speaks Spanish. He speaks six languages, it is a phenomenon. He played in Valencia, Milan, Arsenal … He has a very long career. He is a great person, we are still talking. Now he retired, but a great friendship remained.
Did a little River fan?
He always tells me that he wants to go to Argentina to see the games, to see how the passion of River or Boca is lived. He has a friend who is also from River, and he tells me that he wants to go see a game. I told him that when we meet on a vacation I take it. I also think he wants to be a scout or sports director, so he also wants to see how he works in Argentina. I think it's going to get down that road
The MLS usually have great figures, did you have contact with any of them?
I played against everyone. With Bastian Schweinsteiger when I was in Chicago, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, with Wayne Rooney … When I arrived there were (Andrea) Pirlo and (David) Villa in New York. But when you're on the field you want to beat them, their careers don't matter much. You want to do what is best for your team.
Pirlo almost stole a shirt
It was one of his last games in the league and it was his last chance. We had finished the game, I think we tied. When the game ended, I approached quickly, because if I got to the locker room, I couldn't see that shirt anymore. I went jogging and told him to change. He tells me ‘in the locker room, I give it to the prop. ' And I said no, "now". Everyone was going to be in the locker room, everyone wanted his shirt. Someone was going to get ahead of me. So we changed it there on the court.
I have it here at home, in a box shaped like a shirt. Equally I am not very of keeping shirts. I have his because it is a crack, but around then I start to play with the shirts that I change. I am not like those who make museums. I am less structured. I change more than anything with players I know. I have almost all of the Argentines who are in the league. I like that better.
In the city there is another important team, like the Houston Rockets of the NBA. Did you go to see them?
Yes, I went. I quite like the NBA. I went to see them many times, even to playoff games. They have a good team. While the last few championships had to fight higher than they did in the regular season, they lost the last two with the Golden State Warriors (one in the conference semifinals and one in the Western Conference final). But they also have a great team. I follow him, and he Beard Harden is also involved in our club. So he also comes to watch our matches.
Did you have any contact with James Harden?
Once he came to see us and then he greeted us after the game, but nothing more. But this season it seems that he will be more involved with us. He is a world figure and because of the marketing issue, he is with us. We will surely do an event with him.
Is it worth changing a shirt there?
Yes, obviously. But I bought it for myself. Once we went to the stadium I bought one for myself and one for my girlfriend. Every time we go we use his, which is the figure of the team, of the city, it is everywhere. Now there is Russell Westbrook too, but the figure here is him.
How would you describe your stay at Houston Dynamo?
It is a place where I could play many games, I found a continuity that I did not have throughout my professional career. I am close to playing 100 games with the team and I was able to win a cup (the US Open 2018). Houston is an important part of my career. I have two more years left on my contract and I am happy and comfortable to be here.
What do you remember of your time in River?
I debuted with Ramón (Díaz) at the age of 17, in a summer tournament. Was very young. Then I made my professional debut against San Martín de San Juan, in a tough game, because they were fighting the relegation and we were no longer fighting for anything. I remember that they kicked me up. (Facundo) Afranchino told me ‘come down a bit. ' I happily remember that match. Then I didn't play much. He trained with Primera but played in Reserve.
Then comes (Marcelo) Gallardo and puts me in many games. I started going to the bank and having some continuity, but then came the Pity (Martínez), and (Leonardo) Pisculichi was in the club, so I started to have less room. In addition, the game system changed. We went on to play 4-4-2 and obviously I started wasting minutes. Then I went to the U20 World Cup, where I did poorly. On the way back I think I rushed to Tenerife. It was not the ideal place to have continuity. I had other possibilities, but I chose because of inexperience. It is a very physical league the Second of Spain. I came back at 3 months because I was not feeling well.
Defense and Justice were very good months for me, for the club and for (Ariel) Holan. Then I went to Portugal, where I stayed for a year. When I started to understand a little more what it was like to play, an offer came out from Orlando City. The club did not let me go. And then Houston came. I'm happy here. I think I settled down.
Why do you think you couldn't settle in River?
Because I was 19 or 20 years old. He was very young and there were many players, the best in America. It is one of the best institutions in the world, and it is noted. When there are many players sometimes there are no spaces. When you are young you do not see it that way and by inexperience you rush. I chose to go to Tenerife. The Second of Spain is not bad, because if you do a good season you can go to the First or to another league in Europe. Since it was the first time he left River and was young, it may not have been the best option. That way a team from Argentina would have been better for me to add minutes.
How do you see River from a distance?
Very well, because of how it plays, the structure, the philosophy, which is the same as always. From inferior to Primera. You always want to win, be the protagonist on any court, win titles. You always have to be upstairs. It is so. If you are not trained it is difficult to be there. River is a very large institution and with Gallardo he kept fighting all the tournaments.
What is the secret of River to stay so long in the elite of South America?
There is no secret. It is work, maintaining a line of play, continuing to grow. Then it is in the ability of the coach and the players to be able to couple. Everything River did in this time is not just Gallardo, nor IS it just the players. I believe that there is a harmony between the two parts to obtain what was obtained. It is not only Gallardo. It's not like he has a magic wand and wields them like he has a jockstick. He has great players and a great coaching staff, who work hard. For me it is that, there is no secret. It is working and continuing to learn day by day.
In Houston he got a continuity. Is your goal now to return to Europe?
My goal today is to be here. I have two years of contract. You always look for goals and objectives, but this league is growing and it is difficult to enter. Any player no longer enters, it is very competitive. Today I am in Houston, later you will see what is being presented. At some point I would like to return to Argentina and win something in my country, that would be a good thing. But they are things that are in the air.
He said to return to Argentina. River is a distant possibility?
It depends. If Gallardo wants me back, he would come back, or if they change the coach and the next one wants me, he would come back. One always fantasizes or wishes to return to River. It is my second home. If it is not in River I would like to return to another team and be able to win something. It would be good. When I was in Defense and Justice, we qualified for the South American Cup and immediately went to Europe. My step was short.
What anecdote do you remember of your time in the U20 Selection?
We were concentrated in the U20 Selection with Humbertito (Grondona), who is a character. We concentrated all the weeks of the Fiestas, from 17 to 30 or 1. It was the holidays, but we were there in Ezeiza. One day, to go out, they take us to eat somewhere. Then we had to go back to the AFA with our cars. He told us that he wanted us there, that no one was going anywhere. We grabbed some cars with Angelito Correa, Gio (Simeone), (Nicolás) Tripichio, Augusto Batalla and (Emanuel) Mammana and said ‘let's go for a ride’. We went to eat a hot dog in San Martín. Then we went for a walk around Belgrano and Palermo. When we arrived we thought they were going to be sleeping. When we arrived Humberto was waiting for us. We all screwed up, but they are kid stuff, we were 19 years old.
But then they fulfilled: they classified and were champions
Yes, we were champions. Uruguay also had a great team, they had (Nahitan) Nández, (Gastón) Pereiro, who is now playing in Cagliari. We face each other on the last date. If they won they were champions. We beat them and left them out of the Olympics. He Centenary It was so full. It was one of the most important games of my career. There were 60,000 people. Beating them at the Centennial was like a final.
MORE ABOUT THIS TOPIC:
Carlos Carbonero, champion with River and playing in a World Cup not to play for a year: "I'm looking for an opportunity"
Juan José López tells his truth 9 years after the descent of River: the reinforcements that did not arrive, the inmates and the interference of Passarella in the team
Pumpido opened the debate: "The 86 team was the best team in the history of River, we won the Intercontinental and we went around Boca's court"