Charlotte, NC: The Charlotte Eagles officially announced today the signing of 25 year old Brazilian Diego Martins. The signing marks the second Brazilian player the Eagles have signed in the last two weeks since signing Rio native Amaury Nunes.
Born in Porangatu, Goiás in Brazil, Martins grew up playing in the youth system for Sociedade Esportiva do Gama where he played as an amateur for the Gama Júniors. During his time as a young amateur, Martins lead his club to 3 Brasilia State Championships scoring 18 goals at the young age of 16 in his final year as an amateur.
At age 17, Martins was called up to the professional level for Gama. During his professional career with Gama, Martins lead his club to two professional Brasilia State Championships and was the team MVP in 2004 as Gama won the Brazilian Serie C National Championship. That successful campaign for Martins brought attention from the higher professional divisions as the young midfielder signed with Capital F.C. in 2005.
It was Diego’s year with Capital F.C. that again brought the young star attention from national media as the midfielder scored a goal known as the "goal Pelé coudn’t score". It was this game that Martins took the ball at midfield off a defender, and noticed the opposing keeper cheating off his line. Martins placed a beautiful looping shot from over 50 yards out over the keeper and into the goal.
The goal brought on a media frenzy regionally and nationally as Diego continued to become noticed not just in Brazil, but also in Portugal. Portuguese 1st Division club Deportivo dos Aves observed Martins in 2006 with his club Grêmio E. Anápolis of the Brazilian 2nd Division as he was nominated Player of the Week three times and team MVP.
Aves quickly signed the Brazilian in 2007 as Martins competed against powerhouse clubs Benfica, Sporting Lisbon and FC Porto. After spending two seasons in Portugal, Martins comes to the United States as he looks to make an impact in USL play with the Charlotte Eagles.
"Like Amaury (Nunes), Diego is an outstanding player who is extremely technical and intelligent," remarked Coach Steffens. "He has unbelievable vision and his distribution is exceptional. He has experience at the highest level and has played against some of the best clubs in the world. We think he is going to be a very good compliment to the team and our style of play."
As a member of eight championship teams in Brazil, Martins is excited to help bring another championship; this time in the United States. "The Eagles are a great organization with a lot of history as one of the oldest professional clubs in the country," stated Martins. "My wife and I are very excited to be here in this community and to help bring another USL Championship home to Charlotte."
Martins and the Eagles have one more final tune-up tomorrow night at UNC Charlotte’s TransAmerica Field before opening up their 2009 USL-2 season April 25th at 2pm against Wilmington. The Eagles visit UNC Charlotte at 7pm tomorrow night for their final preseason game against the UNCC 49ers. The event is FREE ADMISSION and open to the public.
Tickets for the Charlotte Eagles Opening Day at Charlotte Christian Stadium are on sale now at www.CharlotteEagles.com. Kickoff is slated for 2pm. Gates open at 1pm. All tickets at the gate are $10/adults and $7/students (ages 6-18). Kids 5 and Under are always FREE.