Cayman teen Sebastian Martinez has taken the next step up the ladder in the world of professional football.
Martinez, 18, has signed a two-year professional deal with Portuguese team Leixoes Sports Club after graduating from a development contract with English League club Swindon Town.
Leixoes plays in LigaPro, the second division in Portugal, and survived a relegation playoff last season after finishing 18th in the 22-team league.
LigaPro dropped to just 20 teams this season, and Leixoes dropped its season debut by a 4-1 score to Real Sport Clube De Queluz last Sunday.
Martinez was not in the lineup for that game. A press release was issued on Tuesday announcing his addition to the Leixoes roster.
Martinez signed a development contract with Swindon Town as a 13-year-old in 2011, and in 2015 he accepted a two-year apprenticeship with the same team.
Martinez is represented by former Jamaica national team player Fitzroy Simpson, who played for Swindon Town, Manchester City and Portsmouth during his professional career.
In the press statement, Martinez said, “I want to thank all those that have supported me on my journey over the past six years, particularly Swindon Town Football Club, [Academy manager] Jeremy Newton, [U-18 manager] Alan McLoughlin and Fitzroy Simpson for the magnificent opportunities and rigorous preparations; my parents and sisters for their support and unwavering belief in me; the rest of my family and friends; and the Government of the Cayman Islands, who have supported me since 2011.
“I am very excited and look forward to the challenges that lie ahead as I embark on the next leg of my journey in Portugal.”
Lee Ramoon, president of the Cayman Islands Football Association and a former member of the Cayman national team who played part of his career in England, said in a statement: “This is great news. Sebastian’s name will be forever enshrined in Cayman’s football history books. It proves that if our youngsters stick to the task at hand, remain committed and work hard, then success can be attained. Members of CIFA’s Executive Committee congratulate Sebastian on his achievement and wish him every success in Portugal.”
Barbara Connolly, a councilor in Cayman’s Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports, Agriculture and Lands, congratulated Martinez on his achievement.
“It is not surprising that Sebastian has earned a professional contract to play football,” she said. “It was a dream of his years ago under the tutelage of coach Winston Chung. Unlike most with similar dreams, however, Sebastian demonstrated a disciplined approach to his future and continued to achieve excellent grades in school while he steadily developed his football skills.
The government is pleased to have been able to play a role in his development and we congratulate Sebastian on this achievement.”
Martinez’s new club, Leixoes, is in Matosinhos, a city in the northern Porto district of Portugal, and it was founded in 1907.
Its football club plays at Estadio do Mar, which has a listed capacity of 9,730.
Another Cayman youngster, Michael Martin of Cayman Brac, is playing for Harbour View Football Club in Jamaica’s Red Stripe Premier League.