CÉSAR MARTÍN VILLAR

Date of Birth: 3 April, 1977
Nationality: Spain (international from 1999 until now)
Period at Deportivo: 1999 - 2006
Transfer: ca. €7,4 million (1.160 mln ptas) (1999, from Real Oviedo)
Clubs: Bolton Wanderers (2006/2007), Levante (2006/2007), Deportivo (1999-2006), Real Oviedo (1994-1999), Real Oviedo B (1994-1995))
Sold: Out of contract (2006)
Height: 185 cm
Weight: 91 kg
Position: Defender (central)

2006 was a year which saw several experienced players leaving Deportivo as a free agent. Molina, Romero and Víctor Sánchez were among them after having been starters for most parts of their careers in Galicia. This didn’t count for CÉSAR MARTÍN though who mainly spent his time at the club on its bench. A waste of a player who in 1999 was to become the successor of Fernando Hierro in the Spanish national team but saw injuries ruining his career. Still, the memories of Bernabéu and Highbury remain.

It all started very promising when tall César Martín made his Liga debut in 1994 while he was only 17-years old. He was captain of the Spanish under-21 team for years and played five seasons (101 Liga matches) for the club of his city of birth: Oviedo. Considered a major talent back then, in 1999 it cost Deportivo a small fortune (ca. €7,4 million) to take him to La Coruña.

His future looked bright and 22-year-old César Martín played the first matches of the 1999/2000 campaign. He even made his international debut on 18 August, 1999 and scored two goals in his first three international appearances with Spain. How much defenders can say this? However, this incredible period blew up when bad luck struck. In October, 1999 he suffered an important injury during the 2-2 draw at Mallorca and only reappeared in March for Liga leaders Deportivo. In the meantime, veteran Donato had taken over his role and a new injury prevented César from celebrating the Liga title with Deportivo in May.

After having been recovered Irureta preferred Naybet, Donato and Hélder during the season 2000/2001. His future even started to leak bleak. César Martín, many times criticized for his pace, did not reach his best form in the matches he played. Again he only reached the number of 11 matches and something had to happen when at the end of 2001 he still hadn’t reconquered a starting position. What actually happened was that Donato suffered a serious injury during the first weeks of 2002. It gave César Martin a new lifeline which he took with both hands. The defender formed part of the magnificent team that won the Copa del Rey in the Bernabéu stadium against Real Madrid (1-2) and he was awesome. A helpless and frustrated Madrid kept pumping balls into Depor’s area, to the likening of César. Likewise was his performance at Arsenal when Depor impress Europe. César even returned to the Spanish team facing the Netherlands in a friendly.

César was back and reached his highest total of Liga matches at Depor during the 2002/2003: 20 in total. Still not much for a central defender who circulated his place with Naybet and Donato. If new signing Jorge Andrade hadn’t suffered an important injury at the start of the season this number could even have been lower. The new Portuguese addition had followed César’s footsteps of three years earlier by sustaining a pre-season injury. When Jorge Andrade eventually became fit he immediately became the most important central defender for the season 2003/2004 accompanied by either Naybet or César Martín while Donato had left the club. Much of César’s numbers had to do with captain Naybet playing the African Cup during the winter months.

There was an evolution in César’s numbers. He would play a total of just 96 Liga matches in 7 seasons but his numbers went from 11 (twice) and 17 to 20, and then back to 16, 14 and 7 in the season 2005/2006 under coach Caparrós. In the season 2003/2004 he barely played 16 Liga matches and it was poor César who caused the penalty which saw FC Porto qualifying for the Champions League final in Riazor (0-1). But he still had earned a place in the Spanish squad playing the Euro 2004 tournament. Although starter Marchena (Valencia) was suspended for the third group match of Spain against Portugal, inexperienced Betis defender Juanito was given the nod over César Martín while Spain were kicked out of the tournament.

His pick for the national team and the departure of Naybet (at the club since 1996) didn’t provide the Asturian defender a boost though. Andrade and Romero formed the centre in the disastrous season 2004/2005 while Coloccini was signed during the winter months. César’s numbers were between the ones of Walter Pandiani (who left the club with a fight) and Pablo Amo. Deportivo didn’t score a single goal in the Champions League and played an humiliating Liga season. It was the end of Irureta who didn’t use César from January 2005 on. Another defender (Coloccini) had taken his place. Coloccini, Romero, Andrade (who suffered another important injury) and new signing Juanma were Caparrós’ favourites during the season 2005/2006.

Aged 29, César barely reached 7 Liga matches that season and wasn’t offered a contract renewal by Deportivo. A career of some ups and many downs had ended. It must have been a relief for both player and club. Mid-July it was announced that César signed a contract at newly-promoted Levante. Neither in Eastern-Spain did César have success. On 31 January 2007 both sides even split ways, which resembled half a year earlier. One month later he reappeared in the Premiership at Bolton Wanderers. One of his dreams had come true. Highbury is gone by now. But will England bring new success?
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