Martinez looks to make his mark, inspire others

Sebastian Martinez (Cayman Sports Buzz file photo)

It’s a journey that has been years in the making but Sebastian Martinez makes it clear that being the first Cayman Islands footballer to sign a professional contract with a Portuguese club, although a major accomplishment, is far from being the ultimate goal. He does not want to be known for just inking the contract but continuing to evolve as a footballer and get the most out of the game he loves.

“It is just a beginning step to fulfilling what I began six years ago. I played in England for five years and I developed as a footballer. Now, I’m taking the first step in my professional career and continue developing a successful career,” the 18-year-old told on a recent promotional trip home.

Martinez spent the past five years at Swindon Town – first at the club’s academy then later under an apprenticeship contract – after his parents agreed to let him move to England with former Jamaica national player turned agent Fitzroy Simpson.

“It’s tough letting your 12-and-a-half-year-old son go to England…but we knew we were putting him in good hands,” said Sebastian’s father, Barry. He added: “with the Simpson family, he not only was well-received but they took him in and treated him as one of their own.”

Then came the opportunity to take his game to the next level and as the young Caymanian assessed his options, a final decision was made to accept an offer with Leixões SC, which plays in Portugal’s second division. Martinez put his signature on a two-year deal with the club in August.

“Hopefully, I can succeed in Portugal over the next couple of years and develop into a complete player and play in the first division and see where I go from there. It’s very much the beginning and I still have a lot of hard work ahead of me,” Martinez said.


Leixões SC representatives Rodolfo Laranjo and Paulo Lopo with Sebastian Martinez.


The elder Martinez was brimming with pride as he spoke about his son. “He’s been kicking around the ball since he was six years old. He always showed a great desire and great potential. It’s a dream come true for him and there’s still a lot more for him to achieve but at least he’s made it this far.”

Simpson, who represented Jamaica at the 1998 FIFA World Cup, said the midfielder is developing according to plan. “His technical ability has always been there. It’s just to get him understanding what his assets are,” the former Manchester City player said.

“He’s naturally gifted but he’s a work in progress. Where he can end up is entirely up to him. He’s got the platform and the support mechanism to be a star.”

Simpson’s business Portugal-based business partner, Ceasar Boaventura, agrees. “Sebastian is a big talent. He is very good technically. We see a very big future for him.”

At Leixões SC, Martinez is part of a melting pot of players from around the world. The club has 16 nationalities on its roster. Rodolfo Laranjo, the club’s vice president, said after getting a chance to assess the young player, they discovered he was a perfect fit for their set-up.

“The coaches saw a talent in the player and that he could, in a few months, achieve a good level to play in Portugal,” Laranjo said. “We think that with more tactical knowledge, he can become a very good football player.”

In the meantime, Martinez remains humble and optimistic about his career prospects as a professional. “Life continues as normal. It’s still the same game. I’m continuing to enjoy the game and what I do and just trying to improve every day.”


Councillor Barbara Conolly with Sebastian Martinez at a reception in George Town. (Photo: Neil Murray)


He said playing in Portugal opens him up to a different – more attacking – style of play than he was accustomed to in England. However, he was quick to point out that the same defensive work-rate on the pitch is needed to be successful.

And while he’s mindful that the eyes of everyone back home in the Cayman Islands will be laser-focused on him, Martinez has no other plan but to make them proud as he lives his boyhood dream.

The former Cayman Prep student also said he hopes his accomplishments will serve as an inspiration for other young people. “I hope it’s just evidence to prove that you can fulfil your dreams as long as you work hard and be determined, believe in yourself and you can do what you put your mind to.”

During the brief homecoming, Martinez spoke to young footballers and was also on hand to present the winning trophy to the St. Ignatius boys team at the CUC Primary Football League Opening Rally on 23 September.

While here, he also attended a special ceremony hosted by the government to honour him. “Every Caymanian should be proud of any Caymanian who is successful,” said David Wight, the councillor in the Ministry of Sports. “I want to thank you, Sebastian, for making us as Caymanians proud,” he added, encouraging Martinez to “go on to greater things and make us even prouder of you.”

Martinez has featured in a handful of exhibition matches for his new club and hopes to lace up his boots for some competitive action in the days ahead with a goal of making it to the first team.

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