During the pre-match snack before Bayern Munich’s contest with Borussia Monchengladbach, Javi Martinez learned that Jerome Boateng would be unable to play. Martinez was now the most senior member of the squad active for the match, and manager Jupp Heynckes handed him the captain’s armband. In a recent interview for Bayern Munich’s website, Javi said the significance of the moment was not lost on him:
I see it as a great honour to be the first Spaniard to captain Bayern. I'll never forget it.
The captain of a team is expected to take charge on the pitch. Whether directing teammates or encouraging them, the leader needs to be a vocal presence during the match that helps his teammates excel and puts his team in position to win. As a six-year veteran of Bayern, this was nothing new for Javi. Outside of taking part in the choice of ends, when it came time to play it was like any other match:
There was no difference during the match. I've always talked a lot to my team-mates anyway, helped them, spurred them on. That's perfectly normal for me.
Still, after the match Javi took to Twitter to express his gratitude at wearing the captain’s armband:
#honor #captain #Javi8 #weiterimmerweiter We will give all for the next 3️⃣ points ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/tG2HDJ9dTZ— Javi Martínez (@Javi8martinez) November 26, 2017
For the last four years Martinez has primarily played center back for Bayern, but he doesn’t view that as his natural position. Neither does Heynckes. After the manager returned to Bayern he moved Javi to defensive midfield, a role he relishes:
I'm glad to be back in the position. I'm feeling very much at home there. I've played in the position for the bulk of my career, and it feels as if I'd never played in defence but always in defensive midfield.
Martinez doesn’t see much of a difference between the positions, especially on a team that dominates possession as much as Bayern Munich. Whether playing on the backline or in midfield, he is expected to work hard when not in possession, controlling the match and the opposition.
To Martinez, though, the position he plays is irrelevant. His primary concern is doing what is best for the club:
I feel good in both positions, both suit my qualities. I'd say I'm a team-player and want to help my team-mates where they need me.
Part two of the interview with Javi Martinez will be published on Bayern Munich’s website on Thursday.