9/1/22, 4:26 AM
When Javi Martinez ended a nine-year stay at Bayern Munich to complete a move to Qatar SC, he was following on a well-trodden path of Spanish international players spending the twilight of their careers at the home of the FIFA World Cup 2022.
After spending two years as the head coach at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium and four years as a player, his former international teammate Xavi had established himself as the face of Al Sadd. Santi Cazorla and Gabi played for the team he coached at the club that was formerly captained by the legendary Raul Gonzales.
But to discover the rationale for Martinez's decision to relocate to Doha and for his entire, extremely successful playing career, you would need to go back in time 20 years.
“Fernando Hierro was my childhood hero; I used to watch on TV when I was a kid,” Martinez told FIFA in an exclusive interview.
“I always wanted to be like him, and there are similarities in the positions we play, even though he was a centre-back, but he was able to play in a holding role."
For Martinez, it was a transition in the opposite direction; after rising to fame as a combative midfielder at Athletic Bilbao, he was converted into a centre-back at Bayern Munich by Pep Guardiola, another Spaniard who had once graced the Qatar Stars League pitches.