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Friday, September 21, 2012
Martinez hails 'world-class' Bayern

Stephan Uersfeld, Germany Correspondent

Javi Martinez made his debut for Bayern Munich in their Champions League win against Valencia on Wednesday, but said a part of his heart will always be with Athletic Bilbao.

Martinez, 24, German football's record signing at €40 million, said he had enjoyed his debut and praised his "world class" team-mates.

Attending a photo shoot with Claudio Pizzaro, Martinez got a taste of the build-up to Munich's Oktoberfest when he was presented with a pair of lederhosen. "Do I have to wear them in public?" he asked. "Yes, that's the way it is here," Pizarro replied.

Martinez talked to TZ about his debut for Bayern and his first weeks at the club following a protracted transfer saga that was finally resolved shortly before deadline day.

He said his team-mates were "not only great footballers but also great guys", adding that he "was well received" and saying that the size of the transfer fee that brought him to Munich from Spain would not be a burden.

And he revealed that he was looking forward to saying a proper farewell to his former team-mates, adding: "As soon as possible, I will say goodbye to them. They are not only my team-mates, but above all my friends.

"I want to see them all again, to say goodbye to them. I had six wonderful years in Bilbao - a part of my heart remains there."

But the other part of his heart now also has to deal with the Oktoberfest, and he said: "Frankly, I don't know what to expect of it. Friends have told me it is great, but we will not be allowed there often."

He said he would be concentrating on learning German, explaining: "I know a few words already, and it's easier than I thought it would be. Hopefully, I will be better in two or three months' time."

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