Picture this. A 12-year-old boy in love with the game of football sees his team go out of existence. Undeterred, he meets up with his friends for a kickabout whenever and wherever they can, be it on grass, a patch of rough ground or out in the street. All that matters is to play and play and play.
Time passes and the boy turns 15, still determined to fulfil his dream of becoming a professional footballer. It just so happens that trials for the national U-17 team are about to get underway. Our hero decides to try his luck and manages to catch the eye of the coach of a first division club.
The intrepid teenager decides to sign for the club's youth team and takes part in a tournament for talented youngsters organised by the national FA. Some of his opponents are six years his senior but, as it turns out, that is the least of his worries. His parents remain blissfully unaware of his extra-curricular activities.
After impressing the coach, the rising star is called up for a mini pre-season tour before forcing his way into the first team. Unfortunately for him, the local paper publishes the squad list, and much to their chagrin, his parents discover Christian's little secret. Before long, though, their anger subsides and our prince of the pitch achieves his long-held ambition, receiving a call-up for the Honduras U-17 side and helping them to qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup finals for the first time in the country's history.
A true fairy tale
And that, in a nutshell, is the story of Christian Martinez, the Honduran frontman who drove the Spanish back-line to distraction on the Catrachos' Korea 2007 debut. As the smiling forward tells FIFA.com, it is a tale his parents have come to understand. "My mother wanted to kill me, but in the end she saw my side of the story."
Born in La Ceiba, in the state of Atlantida, on 8 September 1990, the penalty-box predator still has fond memories of the defunct Talento, his first club, and is now contemplating life after Victoria, the team that gave him his first taste of big-time football. Yet when asked about what the future holds, Martinez is reluctant to speculate. "All I'm thinking about right now is the U-17s. Anything else on top of that is a bonus. If anything comes up then I'll just have to look at it. Like I said, though, the only thing that matters to me at the moment is Honduras progressing at the World Cup."
"How would I describe myself? I think I'm a pacy striker and when I get a sight of goal I don't think twice," he says with a lilting Caribbean accent, while displaying a preference for wasting few words in conversation. "I've still got a lot to learn. To be honest, I don't like talking about myself that much. I leave that to other people."
A keen student of the game, Martinez is a confirmed armchair fan of the game. "I watch a lot of football because I'm still young and you learn things by watching the stars. I love watching the Italian, Spanish and English leagues and my goal is to emulate the likes of (David) Suazo, Ronaldo, (Thierry) Henry, and (Samuel) Eto'o."
Disarmingly modest, the high-flying youngster is clearly enjoying himself in Korea despite his side's losing start. "I was happy after the Spain game because I scored," he admits. "I've always dreamt about scoring and even more so in a World Cup. At the same time though, I was disappointed because we lost. I like hitting the back of the net, but I prefer it when it helps your team to win."
Looking back, and forward
As far as Martinez is concerned, the reasons for the 4-2 loss to Spain are fairly straightforward. "We switched off and they made us pay for that. We've watched the goals again and we've spoken about it during training. We need to look to the future now and think about Argentina."
And what of Wednesday's clash with the South Americans? "There's not much difference between them and Spain; they both like to take a touch before passing. They are a great side and we respect them, but they do have problems in certain departments. Not that I'm going to tell you mind. They might sort them out if I do (laughs)." Conscious of the bearing the game will have on events in Group C, Martinez adds, "like us, Argentina are looking to qualify, so it's bound to be a tight, tough game. For me whoever scores first will win."
As our tête-à-tête draws to a close, Martinez has time for one final observation about his targets in the Far East. "In my mind it's not enough just to put in a good performance if you don't get the right result. Against Argentina only a win or a draw will do." And with that, our amiable goal machine heads back to the training ground, no doubt plotting the next chapter in his own particular fairy tale.