Martín Viberti: “If my ‘old man’ was still alive, he’d be proud to see me working at the Club”

We interviewed one of our scouts in an in-depth chat with a flavour of Argentina, a lot of football and Malaguista feeling.


06/06/2020 20:12

Those who know him see instantly what’s he’s like. A guy passionate about football, particularly ‘his’ Málaga CF. A hard-working man of the Club who doesn’t watch the clock whilst working (enjoying) and would almost pay to do what he does. He lives for football. This is Martín Viberti. His surname impresses and evokes in equal measure. Yes, he is the son of the CD Málaga legend. And a fantastic person. Let’s find out more about him…

The first question seems almost an obligation. Did you watch your father play, Martín?

The truth is I never had the fortune of seeing my ‘old man’ play, which would have been an enormous satisfaction going by everything people have told me. I’ve seen videos of him playing, some at Huracán and others in Málaga. Obviously, the images are somewhat misleading due to technology; football back then was slower, but not as slow as the images portray. I do have an X-ray of how he played from what fans and former teammates of my dad at Huracán and Málaga have told me.

He was an old school midfielder, organised, right-footed, but also worked with the left, with good long, vertical movement to reach the rival area. He was also combative, perhaps when he came to Spain he changed his way of playing. He was more of a fighter in Argentina whereas here he was branded as more of a midfielder. A somewhat slow player, but very clever.

Argentina, the land of Di Stéfano, Maradona and Messi. Who do you prefer?

I never saw Alfredo Di Stéfano play. I can comment on Diego Armando Maradona and Lionel Messi, as I’ve seen them both in action. Each one in their time was the best in the world. If I had to choose one it would be Maradona, for the simple reason that he went to play in Italy at a time when the referees didn’t protect the skilled. The big difference is that Diego Armando Maradona showcased everything at a World Cup like Mexico, which is why he was marked as the best. For me, in terms of character and personality, he was more complete than Lionel Messi.

Bilardo or Menotti?

Both won a world championship. I’ll go for Menotti as he represented a revolution in Argentina by creating his own football. El Flaco’s gameplay was a way of life, I like his views on football. He always prioritised attacking football over speculation about the result. His teams always dominated association football with good players in midfield and technically gifted forwards. I can’t ignore that Menotti, after his career as a player, was coach at Huracán. My other footballing love along with Málaga. He led us to our only Argentine title in history. A team that went down in history as one of the most colourful in Argentina. I choose Menotti as I identify more with his style of play.

‘Trinche’ Carlovich, a legend of Argentinean football who played in the lower divisions, recently passed away. Is there a ‘Trinche’ in Spain?

We’ve come a long way in Segunda B, together with Manolo Gaspar and Francisco Capote, and there are some interesting things. A Trinche’ Carlovich? No. With the greatest respect, ‘Trinche’ was a technically exquisite player, but one who had many ‘shortcomings’ in regard to pace of play and defence. Yes, we have seen some good things, and maybe at some point they may reach our team.

Do you keep up to date with Argentinean football?

To follow what’s going on over there I read all the newspapers, I watch Argentinean football when I can over the weekend, I’m in constant contact with my sports journalist friends and we have a WhatsApp group of 150 journalists throughout Argentina. I try to stay on top of everything.

Speaking of journalism, you worked locally with Cañete…

It was an excellent experience, first because I learnt so much about Paco Cañete’s profession, who in that sense was a teacher and he set a very clear path. I will be eternally grateful to him as at that time I was out of work and was unable to find a job. He came up to me and offered me a job and paid me a salary out of his own pocket so I could live for a year and a half. I will always hold Paco Cañete in my heart as I learnt so much from him as a journalist and also as a human being. He helped me during a very difficult time in my life. May he rest in peace.

Tell us about your daily activities at the Club. You’re all a close-knit group?

We live every day in ‘La Cueva’ with great enthusiasm, great passion and a lot of responsibility. We have an exceptional group. I get along so well with Capote, I’ve learnt a great deal from him. Even though he’s a lot younger than me, he’s a very capable, very intelligent person, and you should always learn from people like that. The relationship is professional, incredibly sincere and there is an atmosphere of respect and cordiality, not forgetting the intensity of our work or when we’re debating about ‘x’ player, I like this one, I don’t like this one, why, etc etc. I can say this is the best group I’ve been part of in terms of sports management.

How does your wife handle your passion for football?

Luckily, I can summarise that in one sentence: ‘My wife is with me’. She knows what it’s all about, we’ve never had a problem and she knows that if I have to go away at weekends to watch football, I do it; and if I have to stay two or three hours longer in ‘La Cueva’, then I do it. She understands perfectly, she respects my passion and my feeling towards football. I’m very grateful I have a wife like that as it’s not easy.

Being a true Argentinean, it would be odd not to ask you about the traditional ‘asado’ and ‘mate’.

The barbecue is a ritual that defines us, the perfect excuse to spend time with friends and family, telling countless stories…It’s an excuse to be close to friends. It’s about meeting up and having a good time. Talking around the grill with a drink, it’s not just about eating well, it’s about chatting beforehand, then eating, then the chat continues. After the roast comes the ‘mates’. This is something we have in our DNA. Roast and ‘mate’, it couldn’t be more Argentinean.

Going back to Málaga CF, the restructuring of the Sports Department has a visible face: Manolo Gaspar.

The fact that Manolo Gaspar is sports director comes as no surprise to me. It’s like when you follow up on a young player and say, ‘he’ll go far’, and he does. The same happened with Manolo Gaspar from the first day I met him. I always said he’d end up being sports director. Why? He sees the good players, he covers a lot of ground in terms of working hours, he’s Malagueño, Malaguista, he has a feeling of belonging, is intelligent in negotiations, he empathises and doesn’t lie to a player. The players have always said it, Manolo Gaspar always tells the truth. This is very important and something a player never forgets.

He has an excellent relationship with us, he’s very upfront, sincere and makes us feel important. He listens. He’s like the cornerstone of the project. He’s doing something very difficult. He’s sports director at a time I believe is the worst moment in the history of the Club. He has the intelligence, ability and tenacity to take this forward. We’re very happy and would do anything for Manolo Gaspar.

Lastly, Martín. What does it mean to you to be from Málaga and work at Málaga?

For me, working at Málaga is an honour. It’s a dream come true. I always say that if my ‘old man’ was still alive, he’d be super happy and proud to see me working at the Club. My two clubs are Málaga in Spain and Huracán in Argentina. Málaga, because I was born here, I’m Malagueño and Malaguista, I learnt to walk at La Rosaleda and it’s something I’ll say a thousand times. It’s a Club that has given so much to us as a family.

It’s a feeling. As well as being a fan I work at the Club. This is one of the best times of my life. I would honestly stay at this beautiful Club my whole life.

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