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Jose 'El Brujo' Martinez is in need of a new check list after crossing off most of his first one in the past year. Photo courtesy of: Philadelphia Union
Jose 'El Brujo' Martinez is in need of a new check list after crossing off most of his first one in the past year. Photo courtesy of: Philadelphia Union

Looking back at a dream year with Philadelphia Union star Jose ‘El Brujo’ Martinez

In his last talk with AL DÍA, Martinez laid out what he wanted to do and went and accomplished it. Still, there’s more work to do.

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“Todo fino.” 

All is well

Jose ‘El Brujo’ Martinez couldn’t help but boast a grin as he settled in for an interview about the past year on Friday, Aug. 27.

A lot has happened for Martinez and his Philadelphia Union since he last talked to AL DÍA. 

To start, the team was crowned Supporter’s Shield champions in November 2020 — the first major hardware since the club first entered the MLS. 

A new contract also came for El Brujo at the end of January 2021, with a guarantee through the 2022 season and a club option through 2024. Last season also marked the first time he played and started for his home country of Venezuela (Seletinto) at the 2021 Copa America. 

All were things Martinez spoke about in his first interview with AL DÍA. In less than a year, El Brujo, accomplished the goals he set out for himself — but he remains hungry and cognizant of the fact there is still much work to do. 

Because the Union won the Supporter’s Shield cup in 2020, the club automatically qualified for the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Champions League. 

When asked about his experience in the tournament, he spoke with excitement about the opportunity to play on a bigger stage. 

“International games always carry extra weight and significance,” said Martinez.

Between pre-season, the start of the MLS league, the CONCACAF Champions’ League and playing for the Venezuelan national team, ‘El Brujo’ also said he hasn’t had much time to rest. 

“I think I used all of my days off at the beginning of the year,” he said.

It is Martinez’s relentless motor on the field that grants him a competitive edge something all teams need, and fans love. A theme of his first interview with AL DÍA was how such effort would endear him to Philly fans, which didn’t get to see much of him in-person over the past year and a half.

When asked about the return of fans into the stands, he said he couldn’t be happier. 

“The support we get during hard times, taking photos with the kids, I love it all,” said Martinez.

It’s something he will be able to enjoy even more now that he has a new contract in Philly.

“To be honest, it was pure joy,” said Martinez of his new deal. “It made me feel like I was doing things right here in my first year here. I never really thought about retiring with the Union, but that’s certainly something I can see myself doing down the road.” 

He also spoke about the stability it was going to bring to his family, and how being in this position was something that he not only dreamed of, but sacrificed for. 

Martinez’s feature on Sele Vinotinto and his experience playing in the 2021 Copa América were also dreams of great sacrifice. 

“It has been my dream since I was a little kid to be able to go out there and play for my country,” said ‘El Brujo’ in his first interview with AL DÍA.

Now, the message of hope for others following their own dreams.

“Dreams aren’t dead until the dreamer stops dreaming,” said Martinez. “Playing for your team, representing your country on the biggest stage, playing against Neymar, I never would have imagined that I would be in this position. I remember watching the Venezuelan team on TV when I was little. Now my family couldn’t be happier for me as they cheer me on.” 

Overall, he called the Copa America experience “surreal,” and one that didn’t hit him until he put on the jersey.

“Then coming down the tunnel and looking across to the Brazilian national team and seeing some of my idols, Casemiro, Neymar, Filiminho,” said Martinez.

“It felt like I was in a dream but actively living in it. I wanted to make sure I compartmentalized that though and didn’t let my emotions distract me from the game itself. I wanted to remain as focused and as locked in as possible,” he continued

Results may not have gone Venezuela’s way, but the memory is one Martinez will carry for the rest of his life. Besides, he pointed to future World Cup qualifiers as things to look forward to on the national stage.

His story is one of determination and success, and also one that will inspire future generations.

“A lot of people have different dreams, different paths, but it’s important that we set out to be the best we can be. Don’t leave behind what you really want to accomplish, keep that ambitious flame lit. If one door closes today, there could be two to open tomorrow,” said Martinez.

Wise words from the 26-year-old budding star that has yet to scratch the surface of his potential.

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