'As if I'd always played in midfield'

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Javi Martínez is in blistering form. Jupp Heynckes' comeback has led to the Spaniard's return to defensive midfield, and the 29-year-old is earning a lot of praise in the position. met Martínez to talk about his position and his debut as Bayern captain.

Javi Martínez interviewed, part 1

Congratulations Javi! You captained FC Bayern for the first time in Gladbach. When did you learn you'd be wearing the armband?
Martínez: When we had our snack before the match the coach told me Jérôme wouldn't play. Suddenly I was the most experienced Bayern pro in the squad and was handed the armband, that was great. I see it as a great honour to be the first Spaniard to captain Bayern. I'll never forget it.

Do you take to the pitch in a different way wearing the armband?
Not really. The only difference was that I took part in the choice of ends. 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.

Unfortunately you weren't able to celebrate a victory after your debut.
It was just a difficult match, as so often in Gladbach. Of course we didn't turn in our best performance. We could tell we were missing some players up front. We still fought and tried to achieve at least a draw, but it wasn't to be. We have to learn from our mistakes and carry on now.

You're in your sixth year in Munich. Do you automatically assume more responsibility then?
I'm 29, I've been a professional footballer for 11 years. Of course you try to help younger players and pass on knowledge and experience in my situation. I think it's perfectly normal. But I'm not alone in this respect. We have a number of players who've been at Bayern longer than me: Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller, Franck Ribéry, Arjen Robben, Jérôme Boateng...

You've played in defensive midfield since Jupp Heynckes' return. How was your comeback in the position for you?
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.

You were a centre-back for four years. Didn't you have any problems adjusting?
That wasn't a problem. Of course a few details are different but they were second nature again after a few training sessions. My team-mates helped me a lot. The difference between playing in midfield and in defence isn't so big as we usually dominate possession and attack. Both the defensive midfielders and the centre-backs have to work a lot when not in possession, they must control the match and contain their opponents.

That sounds as if you prefer defensive midfield over the centre-back position.
I'm in two minds. 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.

The second part of the interview will be published on Thursday 30 November.

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