Martin Braithwaite on why Barcelona ‘can do something special’ against PSG in Champions League

We think we know football players because we see them on the pitch, analyze their attributes, criticize their faults and more often than not, because of the world in which we live in, quickly judge them without actually knowing anything about them. 

Martin Braithwaite is one of these players.

We think we know him from his time with Toulouse, Middlesbrough, or his current club Barcelona, where they acquired him from Leganes last year after the transfer deadline thanks to a somewhat controversial emergency signing rule. Many questioned the move, and whether he was good enough to play for the club … as if that bothered him. If anything it made him hungrier. 

The truth is that Braithwaite, a World Cup player who has scored important goals for club and country, including one against the Republic of Ireland which secured Denmark a spot in this summer’s European Championship, is one of the hardest working, smartest and most interesting players around. 

As a player, he never stops learning. He loves it. Shortly after arriving in Barcelona, for example, he would study Luis Suarez during training and ask him questions about his then-partnership with Lionel Messi. 

“Luis has been one of the best strikers for so many years,” says Braithwaite, speaking to ¡Qué Golazo! and CBS Sports. “He’s obviously doing something right. So I was trying to ask him and look at the small details, the runs and how he would link up with other players. It’s a really important part of the game that people might forget, the small details in the game. I am someone who likes to study the game completely, and I think it makes a difference.” 

Want more coverage of the world’s game? Listen below and subscribe to ¡Qué Golazo! A Daily CBS Soccer Podcast where we take you beyond the pitch and around the globe for commentary, previews, recaps and more. 

There were also endless conversations with another Scandinavian who played for Barça, the legendary Swedish star Henrik Larsson. They still talk today as Larsson is part of Ronald Koeman’s coaching staff at the club. “I just feel blessed and feel grateful that I can have former players around me, and share their knowledge, and I just pick his brain everyday. I used to watch him when I was young and just being next to him everyday is special.” 

The continuous need to learn pays off. Recently, he’s been a key part for the club, as they look to climb up the table, evolve once again after the return of Joan Laporta as president, and now a place in the Copa del Rey final, courtesy of Braithwaite’s winning goal. He is still excited just thinking about it. 

“It was amazing. Of course you always want to help your team to reach the final…and to top off it with a goal, it was an amazing feeling of course,” says Braithwaite, who now has his eyes on PSG and the highly improbable but not impossible task of another remontada in the Champions League. It’s no secret that both him and Barça are in a better place than the 4-1 loss to the French side. So, can they achieve a historic comeback? “Yeah, we’ve been doing great and in a really good state. Of course with the first result we made it difficult for ourselves, but we’ve proven before that we can do it so why not again this time?” he says. “We are feeling good going into this game, and I believe we can do something special.” 

But Braithwaite, however, is more than you think, and his objectives in life go further than football. 

For one, outside of the pitch, he is a very motivated businessman with a socially conscious mind. Alongside his uncle, the entrepreneur and Real Estate disruptor Philip Michael, their venture NYCE Companies, are working in the U.S. to transform the way black, brown and other minorities see themselves in real estate and investment. A new project at Temple University is one example. Looking to reduce the wealth gap by helping 100,000 people of color increase their wealth and become real estate investors through the team’s minority focused investment community, Temple 1 is an incubator where minority entrepreneurs incubate business ideas, receive mentorship, are introduced to strategic partners as well as have the opportunity to participate in a bi-annual pitch competitions to receive investment. Microsoft and InStudio Ventures (part of Adidas’s family investment enterprises) are partners and the development which has 17 residential units in a state-of-the-art AI empowered building for the entrepreneurs to live in.

Martin Braithwaite’s projects extend beyond the pitch and to projects like Temple 1

The goal for Braithwaite is to expand his portfolio but all his businesses begin with a socially conscious incentive. Real Estate, for him, is about educating the less fortunate and helping them understand how to take more ownership of their situation. It’s all about exposure and access to knowledge. 

“Our goal is to always give back to the people,” says Braithwaite. “We’re not here to keep everything for ourselves. Everything in life is about giving back to people who are less fortunate than we are. So that’s what we are trying to do.”

“We want to change people’s mindset. When you’re born in a certain area and in a certain family – and I can only speak for myself – we keep going in this circle of life, your family and your community don’t have this knowledge and you don’t know exactly how to do things, and so you can have people that can help you and push you in the right direction. This is some knowledge you usually wouldn’t get for free, anywhere. So we’re just here trying to give back and at the end of the day, make people happy because when they feel more in control financially, it actually means in the long term, there will be more control in their lives and have more times for their families…we want to teach them make money work for them.” 

This is why this piece began with the simple notion: Don’t judge a book by its cover. Braithwaite is a hungry, humble player but outside of the pitch, he has big, big plans, and they all include helping out his fellow man. 

“We believe in equal rights, no matter what color they are. There should not be any difference. This is something that’s really important for us because no matter your color, you should have the same rights and do the same things no matter what, we just want to put everyone back in the game and make it equal for everyone.”  

So when you watch Martin Braithwaite playing for Barcelona, just remember that as far as this 29-year-old is concerned, there is much more than meets the eye. 

Make sure to listen to the latest episode of ¡Qué Golazo! and be sure to watch it on our YouTube channel as Braithwaite discusses even more about his time with Barcelona, playing with Messi and his thoughts on the future.  

 Source link

Back to top button
SoundCloud To Mp3