David Martin: It’s great to be on this Claret and Blue journey

West Ham United goalkeeper David Martin

Some things in football are simply destined to be – no matter how long events may take to transpire.

For goalkeeper David Martin, son of three-time Hammer of the Year, 1980 FA Cup-winning defender and Club legend Alvin, making an impact at West Ham United perhaps didn't always seem to be one such pre-determined fate.

Even last summer, upon signing for the Club where his father made 596 appearances over two decades, Martin openly admitted he could not have realistically fathomed the opportunity arising to join his boyhood club.

But heroics in Claret and Blue run in his blood.

“Growing up I’ve never not known West Ham,” Martin told talkSPORT. “it’s been a part of my life from when Dad used to take me into the training ground, Chadwell Heath, when I was two or three years old.

“I’ve memories of lifting him me up on the balcony [at Boleyn Ground] one time, just above the barrier, and West Ham had obviously just been promoted [in 1991] and all of the fans were on the pitch.

“It’s weird when you speak to Dad sometimes. I watched a replay the other day of when he won the [1980] FA Cup, and he was in the victory parade. Whole streets in Newham were overrun, so it’s great really to have been on this journey with my family, but especially with someone like Dad.”

Following a varied career at ten different clubs throughout the Premier and Football Leagues – including spells at Liverpool, Leicester City and Leeds United – then-33-year-old shot-stopper Martin put pen-to-paper with the Hammers last June.

We’d won 1-0. All the other things that came with it, it was because it was with my team that it was a dream come true

David Martin

Initially setting out to provide competition for fellow goalkeepers Lukasz Fabianski and Roberto, a combination of injury to the Polish goalkeeper and inconsistent form from the Spaniard thrust Martin into the limelight for a late November debut away at Chelsea.

He was to start at Stamford Bridge, a ground West Ham were seeking their first Premier League victory at in 17 years – and duly made a number of crucial interventions to keep a clean sheet as Aaron Cresswell’s strike sealed an eventual 1-0 win over the Blues.

At full-time, Martin memorably sunk to his knees in delight – before springing over the advertising hoardings and into the stands to share a touching moment with his father.

“I’d got mates who were in the away end at Chelsea,” Martin recalled. “West Ham is where I’m from, it’s my team, and I didn’t want to let anyone down.

“I didn’t want to let my family down, I didn’t want to let the supporters down, I didn’t want to let the manager down, or my teammates, so there was a lot riding on it, and I put a lot of pressure on myself going into that game.

“The lads were amazing in front of me. I felt a bit sorry for Cress because he’d just scored a worldie, right foot, and it almost didn’t get spoken about! It was just relief when that final whistle went and I knew the team had kept a clean sheet and we’d won 1-0. 

“All the other things that came with it, it was because it was with my team that it was a dream come true.”

David Martin celebrates the win at Chelsea

For his memorable subsequent moment with Alvin, David Martin acted, like any typical goalkeeper, on instinct.

“Dad, I think, finds it hard watching me and [my brother] Joe,” Martin explained. “He wants us to do so well, and understands, having been in the industry for most of his life, the pros and the cons and what it can do to you, so to spend that time with him, just one moment…

“We didn’t even really need to say anything. It was just something you’d never plan, it was just an instinct. I’d seen him obviously at half-time – I looked up and he looked as white as a sheet – so when I saw him at full-time, he had a bit more colour in his face and I thought I’d go and see him.”

As for Martin’s footballing idols growing up – aside from the natural choice – his goalkeeping role model proved similarly popular for his exploits in Claret and Blue.

“I just about remember Phil Parkes,” he said, “but I think I looked up to Ludek Miklosko. To me he was a beast of a man, and I remember his kit and all that! Dad was my hero, but I think Ludo wasn’t too far behind.

“Recently he [Miklosko] came to the training ground and that was another surreal feeling – I managed to get a little picture with him, so that’s going up on the wall, definitely!”

Should he opt to hang it alongside a family portrait, one suspects David Martin will have plenty of proud moments to choose from.

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