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Javier Martinez Aginaga was born in Estella-Lizarra, Navarre, Spain. Aged just eight years old, 'Javi' joined local outfit Berceo, before enjoying fleeting spells at Logrones, CD Arenas and Izarra. In 2001 he signed for Osasuna and, five years later, became the third most expensive player in Athletic Club history when the Basque outfit parted with several million Euro for a 17-year-old yet to play a second of first-team football.
Martinez is not the most stereotypical of Spanish footballers. At 6ft 3in, he is much taller than international team-mates Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta and he certainly isn't one to shirk a challenge. In 201 games for Athletic, he picked up 58 yellow cards and was sent off five times.
FC Bayern were certainly impressed: so much so that in the summer of 2012 they splurged on a man described as the "modern-day Steffen Effenberg". "I should make sure that there is a balance between attack and defence," Martinez told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. "I've heard the comparisons […] it could well be that, out of the current Spanish internationals, I am the player who most resembles Effenberg. You could say that I am the most German of all Spanish footballers."
You can't miss him on the pitch and, no matter how hard he tries, it's much the same off it. Martinez showed he's no Solid Snake when, under cover of darkness, he tried to breach the gates of Athletic Club's Lezama training ground, before suddenly being jumped by a security guard. "It's me, it's me! Javi Martinez!," the Bayern star wailed, apparently returning off-peak to avoid the baying fans and collect his boots.
As well as that botched audition for the SAS, Martinez' summer 2012 sandwich included an energy-sapping season with Athletic, in which they reached the UEFA Europa League final, and playing at both UEFA EURO 2012 and the London Olympics. Washed down with a dose of Bavarian relocation, Martinez nevertheless took the Allianz Arena by storm, proving the missing link of seasons past as Bayern went on to record an historic treble.
In his younger days, Martinez got into serious trouble with his mum for dropping his brother's schoolbooks in the kitchen sink and turning the tap on. Apparently, she'd chase him round the house with anything she could get her hands on, but he didn't learn his lesson and it wasn't long before he was on the run again, this time after smashing a flowerpot with a football.
Martinez chipped in with three goals and three assists in his debut Bundesliga campaign, including a sizzling overhead effort against Hannover 96 on Matchday 13. He also won an average of 65.7 per cent of his tackles over the course of the season. Add to that a pass completion rate of 92.6 per cent, and that lofty price tag suddenly makes a whole lot of sense.
Martinez has been known to study TV footage of his team-mates' post-match press conferences and interviews to help bolster his German. He may, though, need to put a few extra hours in judging by what he had to say about assistant coach Hermann Gerland. "Even the German players can't understand him," the midfielder joked.
That the population of Munich enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world has not gone unnoticed by the ten-time Spain international. "People are so honest here," Martinez told the Munich paper tz. "Take the newspaper vending machines. They trust people to put money in [even though they are unlocked]. I can't believe that. That would never work in Spain […] People here are much quieter and much more respectful."
An instant hit on the Bundesliga scene, Martinez took his game to an altogether different level in the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League semi-final against FC Barcelona, making light work of silencing the Catalans' usually deadly midfield triumvirate of Busquets, Xavi and Iniesta. 20 players attempted more passes than him during that first-leg in Munich, but no one completed more tackles. Stefan Effenberg eat your heart out.
Compiled by Christopher Mayer-Lodge