Seattle Sounders star, Clint Dempsey has said that although he hasn’t spoken with Obafemi Martins since the Nigerian striker made an apparent move to the Chinese Super League last week, he holds no ill will toward the man he called “one of my favourite teammates.”
Speaking at the Seattle Sounders’ media day on the eve of the club’s showdown against Club America in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals on Tuesday, Dempsey said he respects every player’s professional path, even if it means losing one of the most dynamic scoring partners he’s ever had.
“At the end of the day, everybody has the right to choose their own path in their career,” Dempsey said. “I have a lot of respect for Oba. He’s come from a little kid in Nigeria to playing at some of the best clubs in the world. He’s had a great career. Who am I to tell him anything?
“All I can say is that I enjoyed my time playing with him, and he was one of my favourite teammates I got to play with.”
Sounders GM and President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey stressed on Monday that the deal for Martins has not been “formally and legally concluded,” but Martins announced last week that he was set to join Chinese club Shanghai Greenland Shenua.
The club then announced the deal on 18 February, with a photo of Martins holding the jersey of his new club, the ninth of his professional career.
“The timing is not ideal, that’s stating the obvious,” Lagerwey said. “To lose a player that’s had an impact on your club the last few years a couple weeks before your season, that’s not how you choose to do it. But it is what it is. You gotta adjust. We have a lot of good players here.”
Martins scored 40 goals and added 23 assists over three seasons up top with Dempsey, and the two combined to become one of the most fearsome offensive pairings in the league.
“I haven’t talked to him,” Sounderfc.com quoted Dempsey to have said. “We really had a good relationship on the field, and I’m going to miss him, because I knew that if I made the right runs he would find me, and hopefully he felt like I could find him too.
“Wherever he’ll go he’ll be successful. If the move is finalized, yeah, we’ll miss him.”
The Sounders will host Club America at CenturyLink Field in the SCCL quarterfinals on Tuesday, a crucial first competitive game of the year for Dempsey and a club now looking to the future.
“Just like anything else, you gotta continue where you are,” Dempsey said. “We still have a good group of players, and it’s about everybody stepping up and making sure they want to be in that Starting XI. We still want to do great things here.”