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Josef Martinez on playing in Atlanta: “I’m having so much fun”

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The striker says he’s grateful to everyone around the club for the way he’s been welcomed.

MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at Atlanta United FC Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

It’s never fun being late to a party, but Josef Martinez has made it work. The 24-year-old was one of the last additions to the inaugural Atlanta United roster when he was initially brought on loan from Torino at the start of preseason. Ever since his arrival in the U.S., he’s done nothing but put the ball in the back of the net at a staggering rate.

Hampered by an early season injury sustained while on international duty, Martinez missed almost three months but has returned to the lineup without missing a beat and missing very few shots on goal. With nine goals in just nine MLS matches played, he’s become one of the most important parts of the Atlanta United project.

The Venezuelan revealed to El Nacional, an outlet in his home country, that he’s loving life with the Five Stripes.

"The reception has been excellent. I just have to say thank you. I have been treated as a major player. Partners, managers, coach and public have treated me very well."

"I do not regret coming here. I'm having so much fun. It's a nice moment, despite the injury I had and that left me almost three months out. [MLS] is going to be an important [league] in a few years and I'm happy to be here." — Josef Martinez; Source: El Nacional (translated by Google)

The admiration between Josef and the supporters of Atlanta is mutual. At each home match you can here the striker’s name sung loudly a several intervals before, during and after the match has been contested. Large cutouts of his head can be seen held up in the crowd along with hundreds of customized shirts in the stands with either his name on the back or a custom design dedicated to him.

Josef Martinez and Atlanta United were a perfect match and the club believed so much in him that it took them only two matches into the season to trigger a clause in his loan agreement to make the move a permanent one. How “permanent” the move is remains to be seen. If he keeps filling the net as he has been, suitors from all over the world are bound to come calling soon. However, if he’s enjoying Atlanta as much as he claims, perhaps the club have a secret weapon to keep hold of him — the supporters and club culture that have made him feel so welcome and accepted.