BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
MALAURY MARTIN has revealed how lunch with Rangers cult hero Dado Prso in the hills of Monte Carlo helped to sell him on a move to Hearts.
The 28-year-old made his debut for the Jambos in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Raith Rovers after arriving from Lillestrom in earlier this month, however the French playmaker is adamant his desire to embark on a Scottish adventure was ignited during the Festive period.
A Monaco academy product, Martin’s family remain on the Cote D’Azur and, in a twist of fate, a spot of winter training brought him face to face with the Prso and fellow ex-Ibrox ace Julien Rodriguez.
“Before I came here I was with Dado Prso and Julien Rodriguez,” Martin explained. “There is a place where everybody goes to train, close to where Monaco train at La Turbie.
“It is in the hills, you have a forest and everybody goes there to run. It’s a place where [Didier] Deschamps used to go. Also a lot of big names in football go there to train and stay fit.
“Now, Dado and Julien don’t train, they just eat there! But after Christmas I was there with a friend of mine and we spoke about Scotland with them. This was before I knew Hearts wanted me, but still they told me how much they enjoyed being here.
“In particular they said how the fans and the atmosphere were great. Dado is a nice big man. His son is now playing for Nice in their academy, actually.
“I know [Tony] Andreu too. We were born in the same town and we are the same age. We played against each other when we were eight years old! I saw him in the summer and he told me he enjoyed Scotland. Everybody knows the reputation here.”
However, it would not be disrespectful to suggest Martin was tipped for bigger things than Tynecastle as a teenager.
He arrives with an impeccable pedigree, having captained France at youth level and emerged through the ranks at the State Louis II, playing alongside Patrice Evra under the tutelage of Didier Deschamps.
“When I was at Monaco I trained and worked with some great names,” he added. “I am proud to have played for the first-team and to have worked with true talents.
“I was there with Patrice Evra and Deschamps was the coach, and you learn so much from these top stars. Monaco will always be special for me and, even now, any young player there is lucky to work with great players.”
However, bold decisions and devastating injuries have lead Martin to Gorgie, and have ensured he is visibly desperate to finally fulfill his potential.
He departed Monaco for Blackpool – then in the English Premier League – in 2010, only for a crushing knee injury to sideline him for six months. A loan stint at Middlesbrough was similarly plagued before he rebuilt his career and fitness in Switzerland with Lausanne and subsequently thriving in Norway during spells with with Sandnes Ulf and Lillestrom.
“I cancelled my contract at Monaco because it was an unstable time and the people controlling the club told me I was not in there plans,” added Martin. “The opportunity to join Blackpool was great but, after that, I had injuries and it was tough. But I don’t regret my big decisions.
“I feel my best is yet to come as a player. I’ve been out twice with injuries on my knee and I didn’t play for two seasons in total because of that. That means I’m 28 on paper but, in my head, I’m 24!
“My ambitions for myself and my team-mates will be high. I’m here to win. I hope we can win the Scottish Cup first and qualify the team for the Europa League. After that, we will see for the league next season. I am here because I’m really ambitious to win titles.”