When you read the words ‘Inigo Martinez’ and ‘own goal’ in the same sentence, you might recall a memorable moment in Manchester United’s recent history.
After just 69 seconds of United’s Champions League meeting with Real Sociedad in 2013, the Premier League side were 1-0 up. Wayne Rooney found space in the opposition box and struck a shot against the post, only for Martinez to get his feet all wrong and plant the rebound into his own net. It is probably the most well-known own goal the Basque has scored, but it certainly was not the funniest.
That honour goes to an effort from two years earlier – and there is at least one link between the two unfortunate events. The own goal detailed in this article came in a game between Spain and Georgia at Under-21 level. Who was minding the net for the Spaniards that day? None other than Manchester United glovesman David de Gea.
De Gea is widely regarded as one of the world’s best goalkeepers, largely for his incredible reflexes and shot-stopping skills. Every season he somehow keeps out near-certain goals with either his hands, feet or body. His positioning is so exemplary that if often seems as if opposition strikers are aiming their shots straight at him.
One thing you can’t anticipate, though, is your own player looping a backheeled volley over your head from more than 30 yards out.
Some might point to Spain being 6-0 up away from home and use it as an excuse for De Gea’s guard being down. To do so, however, would be unfair: there’s no reason why De Gea’s guard should have been up to begin with.
The goalkeeper is taking up a sensible enough position: he’s ready to advance if the long punt from Georgian glovesman Giorgi Makaridze happens to run through to the advancing attackers, meaning he is perfectly placed to do what he has seen Makaridze do just seconds earlier and ensure the danger is cleared at the earliest possible opportunity. He is not prepared for Martínez flicking the ball over him without even stopping to look, because why on earth would you be?
The reality of De Gea’s response is that his half-hearted attempts to chase back are a consequence of the scoreline, but there’s a part of you that wonders whether it is actually his own silent protest at the gall of his team-mate to even attempt to do what he did.
This is one of those own goals where even the best-case scenario is hard to identify. Not only is it easier to do more or less anything else, but even doing nothing at all is more straightforward. Martinez, though, chose his own path – with hilarious consequences.
Perhaps this was just one big practical joke at the expense of De Gea. We can’t rule it out, but if would require Penn & Teller levels of preparation and showmanship. Putting in that much effort to make yourself look the fool is a plan, sure, but not one which anyone ought to be capable of coming up with.