Neal Maupay speaks about 'his part' in Argentina's 2022 World Cup victory

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Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno lies on the ground next to Brighton striker Neal Maupay
Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA

Former Brighton & Hove Albion striker Neal Maupay has explained how one infamous moment eventually led to Argentina winning the 2022 World Cup.

Arsenal's fateful trip to Brighton in 2020 may have ended in a 2-1 defeat, but the game marked a turning point in the career of second-choice Gunners keeper Emiliano Martínez.

Maupay's challenge on Arsenal's then-number one goalkeeper Bernd Leno caused the German to leave the field on a stretcher and changed the trajectory of Martínez's life as a footballer.

The Argentine was thrust into first-team action and used the opportunity to come out of the shadows as a journeyman loanee.

It was his first Premier League appearance for three years having spent time out on loan at Oxford United, Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham, Wolves, Getafe and Reading.

Martínez would go on to impress between the sticks for the North London side, making 23 appearances across all competitions and winning the FA Cup and Community Shield.

Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez poses with his FA Cup winning medal
Photo: Getty Images

Despite his strong displays, Leno regained fitness and the faith of boss Mikel Arteta, so Martínez made a move to Aston Villa for £20 million.

For the first time in his career, Martínez was now the first-choice goalkeeper at a top-flight club, and he quickly began to establish himself as one of the Premier League's best.

Calls for him to be given his Argentina debut began to grow, and the long-awaited start to his international career proved to be even better than he would have dreamed of, as he helped his country win the Copa America in 2021.

This cemented his status as first choice keeper for the World Cup in Qatar, where his heroics in the penalty shootout against France in the final secured Argentina the title and him the Golden Glove.

Argentina and Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez poses with the World Cup and the Golden Glove trophies
Photo: @emimartinezz1

And none of it might have been possible - had Maupay never injured Leno on that fateful day.

Remembering the first domino that fell, Maupay, now plays for Brentford, told SPORTbible:

I got so many messages that said I basically won the World Cup.

Leno got injured after contact with me and then Emi played and then for Argentina, so yeah. He should be grateful shouldn't he.

It was so unfortunate that Leno got injured. I am actually on very good terms with Leno now he is at Fulham. I never tried to hurt him.

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