Carlos Martins: “Now it's time to enjoy and leave everything on the field”
ABC de Braga / UMinho, a Portuguese team full of handball tradition, are in the EHF European League for the first time in their history. But this fact does not mean that the club is not steeped in European experience, because in 2015/16 this club conquered the Challenge Cup against another Portuguese side, SL Benfica, and interestingly, the right wing Carlos Martins was at the club at that time.
“ABC de Braga was a club that gave me a lot and, therefore, has a special meaning for me. I was thrown to the sharks at this club, I arrived here at 18 years old. I had the opportunity to show myself at national and international level and I won't forget that,” the 29-year-old athlete began by saying. Although Carlos Martins is not from Braga, he arrived at this club very young and the feeling of belonging is very strong. “After a great experience at SL Benfica, where I grew a lot and won titles, I decided to return to ABC de Braga and it really is a return home,” he says.
Carlos Martins has already won the EHF European League in 2021/22 with SL Benfica, where the Eagles defeated Wisla Plock and Magdeburg in the EHF Finals where tension was high until the last seconds. This player knows very well this competition and gave it great praise, “The EHF European League is extremely competitive and now with this new model it is even better and more competitive. We have more teams with EHF Champions League quality and the competition has become stronger. It will be a very intense challenge,” highlights Martins.
“Most of our players have their work and then go to training”
Regarding the Portuguese Championship, the main goal for ABC de Braga this season is to reach the European places again. As for the European aspect, much has already been achieved in the right wing's opinion. “Our main objective has already been achieved, which was to reach the group stage of the EHF European League. Now it's time to enjoy and leave everything on the field to honour our club. We want to try to surprise, of course, but always with our feet firmly on the ground. We have some difficulties that many people don't know about. Most of our players have their work and then go to training. It's tough, but we'll do our best until the last second,” he stresses.
“I know that there are no easy games in this competition”
ABC de Braga are included in group D, with RK Nexe, Povazska Bystrica and Skjern. The mountain to climb seems to be tough considering the opponents and Carlos Martins knows this well, yet he maintains the illusion. “RK Nexe are a very strong team. They have strengthened themselves very well this season, they have great players and the atmosphere in their pavilion is spectacular. It's very difficult to play there. I also know Skjern, they even have a Portuguese player in the squad (Joaquim Nazaré), and it's always a complicated team. Bystrica seems like the most accessible team, but I know that there are no easy games in this competition. The teams are extremely competitive and the level is very high. But we're going to do everything we can to debut with a victory in the competition and we'll be giving it our all in Slovakia,” he says.
Carlos Martins is a very fast player who also defends well, but above all he stands out for his competitive mentality and solidarity with his teammates. “I know that I'm an annoying player defending!" he laughs. "And I always try to give confidence to my teammates. Our team is very young, only Humberto Gomes and I have played in the EHF European League and it is important to always send a positive message. If we are all like this, success comes closer,” says the 29-year-old.
Curiously, ABC de Braga defends in a 5-1 model and it’s something that is well worked on from the base in this Portuguese club. This could be one of the secrets to surprising opponents in the EHF European League. “The 5-1 has been worked on at our club since youth levels and, therefore, we are very strong defending in that way. With this way of defending we were also able to recover several balls and take advantage of quick counterattacks,” he says.
When asked about the biggest dream he has yet to fulfil in the world of handball, the Portuguese right wing sets the bar high. “Dreaming is free, that's why I say it's winning a Machineseeker EHF Champions League. I won the Challenge Cup with ABC, the EHF European League with SL Benfica and now I need the Champions League to get the triplet. I know it will be almost impossible, but it's my dream,” concludes Martins.
Photos credit: porfirio ferreira