Nigerian striker, Obafemi Martins is brimming with new life. Following a turbulent stint in the Russian League with Rubin Kazhan, the 28-year-old forward has since rediscovered his prowess in front of goal at Levante. His new lease of life could also be adduced to the fact that he has found love in the form of gorgeous beauty, Abigail Barwuah, Italy and Manchester City striker, Mario Balotelli’s sister.
To save his career from drifting into oblivion, Martins took a big step by taking a huge pay cut (it is speculated to be from an annual salary of €2million to just €600,000) to move to Spain and play for Levante, little known in this part before his move. Less than six months in the region of Valencia, and Martins seems to have taken in the Spanish sunshine and scored six goals in 11 matches. “I’m busy playing now and scoring goals, so I’m happy,”
Martins told Goal.com at his residence in the upscale Victoria Garden City on the outskirts of Lagos. “You know, as a footballer, you can’t expect everything to be going smoothly all the time. When things are difficult, you try to sort it out yourself, you try to push yourself back up. “What I did was, I made the decision to leave Russia and I’m in Levante now scoring goals. I wanted my fans to know that I can still play and do well.
That’s why I left Russia. “I chose the favourite team, which is Levante and the pay cut was very big. I lost a lot of money because I love football. I have a passion for football that’s why I did it. And now, I’m glad I made the decision and I’ve been playing.” He’s got a look-in from Nigeria’s Coach Stephen Keshi, who called him up for the November friendly match against Venezuela in Miami, USA. Even though he didn’t make the list of 32 for the final camping ahead of next month’s Africa Cup of Nations, the striker has a lot to be thankful for.
“They can’t judge me with the Venezuela game because I played against (Real) Madrid. We played around half past nine and finished around half past 12. Before I went to the airport, it was around four in the morning and I took about an 11-hour flight to Miami. After a day or two, we played again. We’re not machines, they can’t expect me to give 120 per cent. “Even (Cristiano) Ronaldo and (Lionel) Messi can’t do it with the flight. If that’s the reason they didn’t choose me, that’s their decision. Right now I’m happy that I’m playing again and people can see me. So, I’m not really bothered.
When they want to call, they’ll call and if they don’t I’ll face my club and play.” In these past few months, he has played against the two big Spanish teams, Barcelona and Real Madrid, and their stars, Ronaldo and Messi, arguably the two best footballers in the world at the moment. Even though Levante lost against both teams, it was a good experience. “I used to play against them. When I was in England, I played against Ronaldo, and Messi in the Champions League when I was at Rubin Kazan. They are good players and their teams are wonderful. They are not small teams that you can defeat easily. They are good players and they are doing very well. “Whenever I play against them, I always see them as among the best players in the world. Everybody wants to play against them. I’m glad that I’m in Spain now playing against all those top players and teams and I hope to continue with what I’ve been doing.”
When it comes to love, Martins is not one to make his relationships public. But in the past few weeks, the blogosphere has been agog with news that he’s dating Mario Balotelli’s elder sister, Abigail. For someone so private, the decision to make it public must mean one thing; he is smitten with her. “That’s my personal life anyway, but I’ve been seeing some blogs saying we’re getting married, saying she had a kid for me. That’s bull s**t. People are just twisting things up. I don’t understand why they are doing that. “The relationship is true, but getting married or not, we haven’t discussed anything like that. She’s upstairs and we’re happy together.” He also dismissed insinuations that Abigail’s younger brother has kicked against their relationship.
Abigail, 24, told The Sun in an interview in April that she couldn’t date a footballer: “Mario wouldn’t let me anyway. He knows too well what they are like. Women surround them. Girls throw themselves at them.” But Martins responded: “Mario is my boy. The respect is there because I used to play in Inter Milan in the youth team with him. He’s giving me my respect and I’m doing the same for him. People are putting it in the news that he’s upset; of course, he’s glad. “He’s glad that Obafemi Martins is dating his sister. If he gets jealous, then it means he doesn’t want his sister to grow. But it’s not like that.
The boy is not bad. Trust me, he’s not a bad boy.” Martins himself has been cast as a bad boy by the media in times past. Often seen in nightclubs during his vacation. But he shakes off that image. “I’m not a bad boy! When it is time for me to have fun, I have fun but not getting drunk. They’ve never seen me get drunk in this Lagos. I drive back home all the time.
They can see me in the clubs, but it doesn’t mean I don’t know what I’m doing. “It’s good that they see Obafemi Martins in the club than me just staying at home and my fans can’t even see me. I went to D’Banj’s Koko Concert and there were no bodyguards. I just walked on my own. It’s fun for me,” he said. If he would be announcing an engagement to Abigail soon, he didn’t say so, as he would want to focus on football for now.
But he had a word for the Super Eagles ahead of the 2013 Afcon in South Africa: “They have a good team, but if I join it, maybe it would be great. They’ve got players that can win it and I wish them the best of luck.”