Martin Braithwaite is not a boxer. But in terms of combat, the Danish footballer knows a thing or two about it. The striker, born in Esbjerg, a port city in western Denmark, has always believed in him.
An episode in his career bears witness to this. On May 14, 2016, Toulouse (TFC), where he played from 2013 to 2017, plays the maintenance in Ligue 1 on the last match of the season against Angers, with victory as an imperative. Led 1-0, the “Téf” believe they can equalize from the penalty spot, but Martin Braithwaite misses his attempt. Many would have dived, but the striker shows resilience and offers the equalizer to his team, finally maintained at the end of a legendary scenario (victory 3-2).
A representative summary of the player, who today plays at FC Barcelona. Sometimes laborious, sometimes decisive, but “Worker and volunteer, as portrayed by Dominique Arribagé, his former coach in Toulouse. He lacked the finish but he has evolved in this area ”. Six years later, Martin Braithwaite participates in his first Euro, at 30 and 50 caps.
A decisive pass of fate
The former TFC scorer (40 goals in 4 years) may not be superstitious, but there is no doubt that fate has given him a nice assist. As when Barça, in February 2020, chose him as the medical joker and debauched of the Leganés club, lifting the option to buy 18 million euros, to compensate for the absences of Ousmane Dembélé and Luis Suarez.
“It was a surprise. I think his time at Leganés was good, with perfect timing. Barca absolutely needed a striker at that point. He was able to take advantage of the opportunity ”, abounds Dominique Arribagé.
Before that, he always knew how to demonstrate his qualities. In the club of his hometown first, where he started in 2009. After eighteen months of playing game ends, he broke his fibula and helplessly witnessed, in May 2011, the descent of Esbjerg in second division. This is where he imposed himself and actively participated in the immediate recovery of the club.
In 2013, Martin Braithwaite was the author of the decisive pass which led to the only goal of the national cup final and gave Esbjerg his first trophy since 1979. He caught the eye of Toulouse recruiters, who decided to to secure its services for 2 million euros. “I had defined a profile of attacker and the one who corresponded best was Martin. I wanted a player of depth and breakage ”, analyzes Alain Casanova, his first coach in Toulouse.
In a wheelchair for two years
He discovered the Garonne after scoring his first international goal against Poland in August 2013. Often decisive during friendly matches, his main achievement dates from November 18, 2019, during the “final” of the Euro qualifiers. against Ireland. The Danes had to at least draw a draw to keep their second place, synonymous with direct qualification. Braithwaite opens the scoring and ensures the sharing of points (1-1) which opens the doors of the tournament. Replacing at the start of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, he finished starting, and failed with his team in the round of 16 against Croatia.
“He was someone very sure of himself, who knew what he wanted and how to get there”, underlines Alain Casanova. A strength that he perhaps draws from a painful childhood. Suffering from Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease (a rare childhood disease that can cause necrosis of the femur), he must remain in a wheelchair for two years.
In Toulouse, his former teammates keep the image of a player ready to make all the sacrifices to progress. Etienne Didot, who describes “A good guy, discreet and pleasant on a daily basis” remember : “He was one of the few to have a personal trainer. Almost no one did that at the time. He stayed with him at the training center outside of sessions. Physically and explosively, he was already above the rest. “
“It’s up to him to pull Denmark upwards”
In 2017, the Danish player signed for four years at Middlesbrough, a club in the English second division. This English experience came to an end: two half-seasons interspersed with a loan to Bordeaux before a transfer to Leganés in February 2019. His good performances in the Spanish championship opened the doors to Catalonia a year later.
“Seeing him in Barcelona, it may seem strange but, given his investment, I’m happy that he had this success”, greets Etienne Didot. This surprise signature in a mastodon allowed him to evolve technically. “On his first touch of the ball, he’s even fairer. He has refined himself and that does not surprise me given the great players with whom he evolves “, abounds Alain Casanova. The only weak point highlighted by observers? The finish in front of the goal.
Often a substitute, Barça number 9 scored the decisive goal in the Copa del Rey semi-final against Sevilla FC on March 3, 2021, a competition he won with the Blaugranas. The second trophy of his prize list.
“He was able to take advantage of the Barcelona experience to win a starting place in the selection, which was not won at the start, emphasizes Dominique Arribagé. It’s up to him to pull Denmark up. “ The Danes are not among the favorites for the Euro, but they will play their three group matches at home in Copenhagen. First element of response on June 12, against Finland, at 6 p.m.
Denmark-Finland, Saturday June 12 at 6 p.m. in Copenhagen.
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