EXCLUSIVEBy Lolade Adewuyi
Levante striker Obafemi Martins insists he made the right decision to leave Rubin Kazan to join the Spanish outfit, even although it meant he had to take a "big" pay cut.
Following a very low period in his career where he looked set to end it all in the backwaters of the Russian league, the 28 year-old forward has since rediscovered his prowess in front of goal for the Liga side having netted six times in 13 games.
According to reports, Martins took a huge pay cut from being on an annual salary of €2 million at Rubin to €600,000 to move to Spain and play for Levante, but the Nigeria international is still confident he made the right decision and is delighted to be back amongst the goals.
“I’m busy playing now and scoring goals, so I’m happy,” Martins told Goal.com.
“You know as a footballer, you can’t expect everything to be going up all the time. When things are difficult you try to sort it out yourself, you try to push yourself back up.
“What I did was I made the decision to leave Russia and I’m in Levante now scoring goals. I wanted my fans to know that I can still play and do well, that’s why I left Russia.
“I chose the favourite team which is Levante and the pay cut was very big. I lost a lot of money because I love football. I have a passion for football that’s why I did it. And now I’m glad I made the decision and I’ve been playing now.”
In the past few months Martins has played against the two big Spanish teams – Barcelona and Real Madrid – and their stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, arguably the two best footballers in the world at the moment. Even though Levante lost against both teams, he feels it was a good experience. ;
He added: “I used to play against them anyway - when I used to play in England I played against Ronaldo, and Messi in the Champions League when I used to play at Rubin Kazan.
“They are good players and their teams are wonderful teams, they are not small teams that you can defeat easily. They are good players and are doing very well.
“Whenever I play against them I always see them as among the best players in the world. Everybody wants to play against them. I’m glad that I’m in Spain now playing against all these top players and teams and I hope to continue what I’ve been doing.”
When it comes to love, Martins is not one to make his relationships public. But in the past few weeks, the blogosphere has been active with news that he’s dating Mario Balotelli’s elder sister, Abigail.
He said: “That’s my personal life anyway, but I’ve been seeing some blogs saying we’re getting married, saying she had a kid, for me that’s bulls**t. People are just twisting things up. I don’t understand why they are doing that.
“The relationship is true but getting married or not, we haven’t discussed anything like that. She’s upstairs and we’re happy together.”
He also dismissed insinuations that Abigail’s younger brother has kicked against their relationship. Abigail, 24, told the The Sun in an interview in April that she couldn’t date a footballer: “Mario wouldn’t let me anyway. He knows only too well what they are like. They are surrounded by women. Girls throw themselves at them.”
But Martins responded: ;“Mario is my boy. The respect is there because I used to play at Inter, in the youth team with him. He’s giving me my respect and I’m doing same. People are putting it in the news that he’s upset, of course he’s glad.
“He’s glad that Obafemi Martins is dating his sister. But if he gets jealous then it means he doesn’t want his sister to grow. But it’s not like that. The boy is not a bad boy, trust me, he’s not a bad boy.”