Gracias, Javi Martínez: Fighter, winner and fan favourite
He has always been there when needed and has played a huge part in FC Bayern currently being in the most successful era of the club's 120-year history. Javi Martínez is one of just five players who have won the treble twice with FCB. After nine extremely successful years here, "Mr. Supercup", as Thomas Müller christened him in 2020, is leaving the German record champions - but the fans will always carry Martínez in their hearts.
Martínez arrives as record signing
Shortly before the end of the 2012 summer transfer window, Bayern signed Martínez for €40 million from Athletic Bilbao, making him the most expensive transfer in Bundesliga history at the time. "Javi Martínez is a type of player that we don't have right now. He has exactly what we would want," was the reason given by the then-board member for sport Matthias Sammer for signing the Navarro-born world and European champion, who, despite his young age, had already made 200 La Liga appearances (a record for a 23-year-old at the time). Perhaps he was that missing puzzle piece, subsequently helping FC Bayern to the first treble in the club's history that season. He gave the team more stability and security after the setback of losing the Champions League final the year before.
FCB debut on birthday & dream maiden goal
After just two days in Munich, Martínez got a special 24th birthday present by making his FCB debut, coming on for Bastian Schweinsteiger after 77 minutes of the home match against VfB Stuttgart. A week later, he notched up his first assist, in his second substitute appearance. He played the ball through the middle with pinpoint accuracy to Toni Kroos, who was able to finish cleanly. In November, he scored his first goal for Bayern - a spectacular overhead kick.
Settling in made easy - in part thanks to Schweinsteiger
The Spaniard did not need a long period of time to adjust. "Language, country, city, house, team, coach, club - everything was new! But my teammates and the whole club made it easy for me. Looking back, it was easier than I initially thought it would be," the 32-year-old recalls. His easy-going manner - coach Jupp Heynckes called him a "scatterbrained football professor" - paved his way to integrating into the team, and Schweinsteiger also supported him. "He helped me, especially in terms of midfield positioning. I could always ask him for advice, because it was a big adjustment."
Into the hearts of the fans with desire and passion
The two quickly formed a dream team in the centre of midfield. Alongside the Munich footballing god, Martínez threw himself into every 50/50 and provided the perfect platform to the game with good passing. "Javi is one of the reasons why we concede so few goals," Heynckes enthused. "You can always rely on Javi. He is a tremendous fighter," Hansi Flick also said a few years later in praise of the 'Emperor of Ayegui', as Martínez is called in his hometown. "For the people in Navarro, the most important thing is to fight until the end," explained the 2013 and 2020 FIFA Club World Cup winner, who quickly won the hearts and minds of the fans with his irrepressible determination.
German lessons to quickly integrate
In addition, the defensive specialist immediately learned German and integrated himself in the best possible way at the record champions. It quickly became clear that Martínez was the source of good fortune for Bayern. He'd completely won over the fans by 2013, after the semi-final first leg against Barcelona. Driven by the No. 8, Bayern won 4-0 - and loud shouts eulogising Martínez echoed throughout the Allianz Arena. "I was tingling because I was still a newbie."
Key player at Wembley
A few weeks later, Bayern won the Champions League in London - also thanks to Martínez. "He developed a power in midfield that led to us coming off the pitch as winners," Sammer said in praise of him after the final at Wembley. The fans were now definitely his and the Spaniard also showed full commitment in the years that followed. "When the going gets tough, he stands up. He is there when everything is at stake," said Heynckes.
Glory moments and many injuries
The Champions League group match at Celtic in October 2017, where a bloodied Martínez headed Bayern to victory, is a case in point. Or the last 16 first leg at Liverpool in 2019, when he more than earned his new nickname Javi Maschinez with countless challenges. In addition, he was the decisive man twice in the UEFA Super Cup. In 2013, he shot FCB into the penalty shoot-out in the last minute, where the Munich side then prevailed against Chelsea. In 2020, he scored the winner against Sevilla in extra-time (2-1). Unfortunately, numerous injuries - including groin surgery, a torn cruciate ligament and a broken collarbone - prevented him from consistently giving us more of these performances.
📸 In nine years in Munich, Martínez won the Bundesliga nine times, the DFB Cup five times, the German Super Cup four times, and the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup twice each. He has scored 14 goals in 267 matches so far. Have a look at an impressive collection of titles in pictures:
Nine years of passion for FCB
And now after the final game of the 2020/21 season against Augsburg, the fan favourite is moving on. "It was a dream to play in a Bayern jersey," says Martínez looking back on nine years in which he gave everything for Bayern and won the league every season - no other player in Bundesliga history has played so many seasons and won the league each time. "My dream is to become a Bayern legend. Then I can come back to Munich on a regular basis," he said in a 2018 interview with club magazine '51', underlining his attachment to his second home. He has definitely achieved that goal. Thanks to his style of play and manner off the pitch - "Javi is a bit of a chaotic character but he's a difference-maker," Sammer once said - the fans in Munich will always welcome him with open arms. Goodbye and muchas gracias por todo, Javi!
You can watch Martínez's best moments in a Bayern jersey below: