Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez #7 celebrates after scoring a goal during the first half of the first leg match between Atlanta United at FC Motagua in the Round of 16 in the 2020 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League at Estadio Olimpico in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on Tuesday February 18, 2020. (Photo by Jacob Gonzalez/Atlanta United)

Josef Martinez, the face of Major League Soccer club Atlanta United, opted to speak to press today after the team’s morning training. Below is a transcript from the press conference.

The highlights include Martinez’s return to the States with COVID as well as a minor heart issue, refusing to address #KetchupGate (Heinze denying the players water), and that because the fans love him so much, he would die for them.

All of this comes after the sacking of coach Gabriel Heinze, Martinez’s continued isolation from the team even after recovering from COVID, reports that Heinze held training on days designated for rest, and limited the team’s water breaks.

*The questions are in black, Josef’s responses are in red.


Describe what the issue with Heinze was and is it your desire to stay in ATL past this season?

There wasn’t a problem and I respected the decision the club has made, the issues were resolved and I have to be professional. My first plan was to retire here so… I love this club.

How you train is how you play so that’s what I’ll take from him.”

Josef Martinez on what he learned from Gabriel Heinze

How he views his present and future with the club?

Present, tomorrow we have a special game, a beautiful game that we have to enjoy. The future I don’t know, I like to live in the present, we’ll see what happens.

What was it like the past few matches being fit/healthy and not playing?

There are decisions that you have to respect. As a leader and the face of this club I have to be professional and try to support my teammates on/off the field so that’s what I try to do.

What was the worst moment on the days you were apart and how’d you feel?

There was no worst day, like I said, I respect the decisions that the club makes, and we’re sitting here so let’s talk about the game tomorrow.

His take on the last two coaching hires:

I’m not part of the decision making process of the club. As players we have to respect the decisions by the coaches coming in. As players we have to come in and give our best, which is to one of the greatest clubs in the world. What we have to do now is work hard, get back to winning games, and provide our fans with that joy again.

What he’ll take away from playing under Heinze:

Every coaching staff you learn things from, they tried to teach us new things on the field and we learn as we go. How you train is how you play so that’s what I’ll take from him.

What was missing from Heinze’s staff to get results on the field?

I dunno exactly what was missing to get the results, but I do think we need to score more goals. I got back from Brazil with COVID and I had a minor heart issue that a lot of people didn’t know about, so now my mission is to get better and move forward.

What do you want to see in the next coach?

That’s a decision for Carlos, Darren, and the club. As a leader and a reference of this club, what’s important to me is that there’s a health and a joy in the locker room. And I’ll repeat it, just to bring the joy back to the fans, city, and us as players.

How many changes can a club withstand coming from where the club was to now?

Every club in the world has highs and lows. We know we’ve had decisions that haven’t worked out the best. I think the important thing is to know what those problems were and to get back to where we were again. I think for four years we were the most talked about club in the world and I think we deserved that. I’ve been here since the beginning (before there was even a field) and I’ve seen everything that we’ve built here that’s why it hurt me, but that’s why I want to give back so much to this club.

Is your heart issue the reason you weren’t training under Heinze?

Decisions are decisions just like now (him deciding to talk to us) and I’m ready to travel to Cincinnati.

Have you talked to the new coaching staff to get you in the position to score more goals?

Yes. Rob has been here a longtime. And he has a lot of pressure as well. Just last week he was helping us train and now he’s having to deal with all this.

What would you like to say with the fans who’ve supported you through all this?

I get emotional… Since I’ve been here people have treated me like another son. When I’m on the field I try to give my all to repay that love to all the fans and if its not with goals it’s with maximum effort. And as long as I’m wearing an ATL UTD shirt I’m gonna give everything and even my life for this team. Even if I have to get injured five times or more, I’ll do it.

Can you confirm you were denied water under Heinze?

Whatever has been said in the news is already out there. I’ve respected every coach I’ve had and it’s time to move forward.

Can you clarify when you started having heart issues?

After the 12 days we were in quarantine. For us to return to physical training we have to pass certain tests and one of those tests is a cardiac test. I don’t think it was a very big problem but it’s something that has to be dealt with and thanks to God I’m ok.

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