Lautaro Martinez reveals just how bad his ankle injury was last season, all through the World Cup with Argentina and the Champions League Final for Inter. ‘I played thanks to painkillers.’
The striker ended up lifting the World Cup in December in Qatar, then took the Coppa Italia, Supercoppa Italiana and reached the Champions League Final, losing 1-0 to Manchester City.
He was criticised for his performances for Argentina, but few realised quite how difficult the situation was for him.
“I played the first few months of the season with an ankle problem, but because Romelu Lukaku and Tucu Correa were injured, I could not stop. I was the only striker, so I played thanks to painkillers, both pills and injections,” Lautaro Martinez told Star+.
“I was in so much pain in the opening World Cup match with Saudi Arabia, and then against Mexico too, I simply couldn’t do any more.
“All the way up until just before the Champions League Final, I took medication that allowed me to play. The pain meant I could not train, I could not kick the ball with the foot flexed. At times, just some movement made me see stars.
“I did not give in, but eventually it became impossible. I dealt with it by closing up, crying alone in my room. I had to get my family and my daughter to visit often, as I needed their presence and affection.
“It was really tough, because I was the top scorer of Lionel Scaloni’s team before that World Cup and people expected a lot from me.”
Although he did not score from open play in the Qatar World Cup, Lautaro Martinez did convert a penalty in the shoot-out against the Netherlands.
However, the Final with France would give that special moment to Gonzalo Montiel.
“I was meant to be the last up in the Final, just as I was with the Netherlands, while Montiel was fourth up. As we were walking over, Montiel was crying, the coach kept asking him if he was ok.
“Seeing as Dibu Martinez had already saved one, I asked him to let me take the fourth. I started walking and he shook his head no. I would’ve gladly kicked him!
“Maybe he just hoped I would miss so we would have to reach the fifth…”
Montiel and the fourth penalty proved enough to secure the trophy, so Lautaro Martinez did not take a spot-kick in that shoot-out.
However, he did end the season with 28 goals and 11 assists in 57 competitive games for Inter.