Emiliano Martinez returned to Aston Villa on Friday after his World Cup heroics with Argentina, which were followed by controversial and crude post-match celebrations.
Martinez was a penalty shoot-out star for La Albiceleste, helping them to victory over France in the final by saving Kingsley Coman’s spot-kick and winning the tournament’s Golden Glove award.
However, to many critics the goalkeeper’s subsequent celebrations crossed the line of acceptability.
Martinez, whose gamesmanship in the shoot-out had already drawn criticism, appeared to repeatedly taunt beaten France hat-trick hero Kylian Mbappe, while he made a seemingly deliberate lewd gesture with the Golden Glove trophy.
The former Arsenal player called for a “moment of silence” for Mbappe in the dressing room after Argentina’s win, and he was seen holding a bizarre puppet with the France forward’s face on during homecoming celebrations.
As he arrived at Villa on Friday, Martinez may have had some explaining to do to club bosses.
Head coach Unai Emery last week promised to address Martinez’s manner of celebration, saying: “When you have big emotions, sometimes it’s difficult to control. I will speak with him next week about some celebrations.”
French football Federation president Noel Le Graet wrote to his Argentina counterparts to complain about abuse aimed at Mbappe, who has since described Martinez’s actions as “trivial”.
Villa face Tottenham in the Premier League on Sunday, having lost 3-1 to Liverpool in their first game back after the World Cup break.
Look who’s back.
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial)