Josef Martinez: Parables of the Winnerzuelan
Add a bit of flair with a burst of pace, and you’ll get Josef Martinez. We all love a good rags-to-riches story, and the MLS Hall of Famer has all the credentials to boast of one. If one were to sit through all the cassettes of his life on his ascent to stardom, it would be hard not to be gobsmacked.
Goal 90 is excited to share with you a brief account of yet another awe-inspiring tale from the life of Venezuela’s finest, Josef Martinez. Stay with us to also discover some intriguing details of his life outside of football, including his religion, love life, tattoos, and more.
His father, Alexander Martinez, and his mother, whose name has not been disclosed to the public, act as Josef’s pillars of strength. He also has a sister whose name, along with other details relevant to her identity, is not known.
Josef Martinez is of Hispanic ethnicity. His ancestors inhabited the regions in the northern part of Venezuela.
Josef is a devoted adherent of the Christian faith. In a documentary, he explains how religion plays an important role in his development as a player and as a human being. He always begins his games with a prayer of gratitude.
He is unmarried. However, he is currently dating Valentina Vero, with whom he has a son named Josef Andre. The couple shared a reel of their son’s gender reveal party before his birth.
Josef Martinez Childhood
On the 19th of May, 1993, Josef introduced himself to the world. He was born to two loving parents in the suburbs of Valencia, Carabobo, Venezuela. He happens to be their first child.
Though the neighborhood he lived in wasn’t the safest, his earliest contact with a ball goes back to when he and his friends assembled on the nearby ground to play some football. Young Josef was an ardent admirer of the Brazilian footballing sensation, Ronaldo Nazario. He also admits to being a massive Real Madrid fan and that he would cry whenever Los Blancos lost a game. At the same time, he was asked
“Did you have any idols growing up or someone you looked up to?”
To which he responded:
“All my life since I was a child, my idol has always been Ronaldo.”
Josef’s unwavering love for the game led to him being enrolled in Aquiles Nazoa’s youth football club as a result of constant badgering. He showcased his talent with unmatched energy and zeal there, and his coach, Simone Lozano, was thoroughly impressed. In an interview about his first encounter with Josef, he says the following:
“In a matter of seconds, I noticed that Martinez had incredible ball skills that surpassed all children his age and those older than him, and I predicted that the gift God gave him would make Josef successful at a very early age. He is still showing it with Atlanta United today.”
With a string of performances showing no signs of coming to a halt, he was enrolled in Caracas FC’s youth academy. He passed the trials with minimal effort, owing to his unmatched talent.
Josef Martinez immediately established himself as one of the best players in the academy. He was an excellent dribbler with a finishing of top-notch standards. He began his early career playing as a winger, firing up the flanks with his burst of acceleration. However, he moved to a more central position as goal scoring slowly began to emerge as one of his highly notable traits.
He made his debut for Caracas FC at the age of 17 in 2010. He scored his first goal three months later and usually propagated his influence on the game by coming off the bench.
Weathering the Comfort Zone
Due to his limited game time, the ambitious boy from Valencia made his move to foreign soil by transferring to Young Boys in Switzerland at the age of 18, along with fellow teammate Alexander Gonzalez.
He was deployed as a super-sub but slowly worked his way into the regular starting XI following a nifty run of performances. He scored his first goal for the club with a splendid volley.
His outcomes in the games played for the Swiss side caught the attention of the Venezuelan National Team, who called upon his services. According to him, this was one of the happiest moments of his nascent career.
After failing to meet his desired game time expectations, he was loaned to another Swiss club, FC Thun. His performances for the latter sent shockwaves as he finished as the top scorer in the Swiss Super League. This caught the attention of Torino, and he was transferred for a fee of €3 million. He netted his first goal for Torino against IF Brommapojkarna in the return leg of the Europa League. He soon became an impactful goal-scorer for the team from Turin.
His antics at Torino enticed an interest from the MLS side, Atlanta United, who bought him on loan with an option to buy. This is where Josef’s talent and untapped potential shone the brightest. He furthered this cause by scoring a hat-trick in the week following his debut. Shortly after, he was named the MLS Player of the Month due to his spectacular performances.
His buyout clause was activated without a second thought, and by early 2018, he had already registered five hat-tricks. He ended the 2018 season as the top scorer and won the MLS Goal of the Year award in 2019. In that same year, he scored in 15 consecutive games, a record that still stands to this day. He won the MLS Goal of the Year award again in 2022 and marked the end of his illustrious chapter at Atlanta United by joining Lionel Messi in Inter Miami in 2023.
Josef Martinez has several tattoos inked on his skin, including a football with a crown on top of his left hand, as well as a tattoo of his pet dog.
Some Fun Facts
- His streak of scoring in 15 consecutive games is the third-best in football, just behind his current teammate Lionel Messi, who holds the second spot.
- He is the most decorated player in the history of Major League Soccer.
- Josef Martinez is the fastest player to reach 100 goals in the MLS.
- He holds the record for the most hat-tricks in the MLS.
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Josef Alexander Martinez Mencia
Date Of Birth
May 19, 1993
Place Of Birth
5ft 8in (1.73m)
- Alexander Martinez
- Mother’s name not known
Inter Miami FC
Club Jersey Num
- Aquiles Nazoa
- Caracas FC