Independiente icon Miguel Angel Santoro may be the man to thank for Aston Villa star Dibu Martinez’s current success, having stood by him early in his career.

That’s according to Godoy Cruz goalkeeper Diego Rodriguez, who played alongside the Aston Villa number one as a youngster and witnessed his struggles first hand.

Martinez is currently ranked as the best goalkeeper in world football after a big rise in recent years for club and country since joining Aston Villa in September 2020.

Since then, he has established himself as one of the best in the world, particularly on the international stage, where he has played a key part in Argentina’s success winning the Copa America and then the World Cup in Qatar.

That latter success saw him win in the Yashin Trophy as the best goalkeeper in the world in 2023 and his reputation continue to rise.

It’s been a remarkable turnaround for the goalkeeper, who joined Arsenal in 2010 but failed to really make the grade at the Emirates and spent the subsequent nine years on various unsuccessful loan spells in England and Spain.

He’s now enjoying the fruit of his labour and his childhood teammate has revealed there was only one plan for him, even when he was struggling in the early days of his career.

“He started crying out of helplessness, he was having a bad time,” he said in an interview with Radio Continental, relayed by El Grafico.

“We saw that Dibu was doing a job, he couldn’t jump a fence and he started crying out of helplessness. He was having a bad time.

“Pepe (Santoro) told us that he was going to stay. ‘This kid is going to be a monster, remember what I’m telling you today.’ Actually, we always said that Pepe had one eye… On the first day he saw things that no one sees.