By Rick Olivares
When told that his name is a mouthful, Carlos Alberto Olaivar Martinez de Murga laughs. “Si, it is long,” smiled the new right back/midfielder for the Philippine Men’s Football National Team. “Call me ‘Carli’ instead.”
Even the place where the 22-year old Fil-Spaniard is from is a mouthful — El Puerto de Santa Maria, Provincia de Cadiz, Andalucia, Spain. “I’m from Cadiz,” he laughed once more. “And I play for Racing Club Portuense in Tercera División.”
The Tercera División is the fourth-level of the Spanish football league system with up to 22 teams competing for promotion to the next level.
The Fil-Spanish footballer heard about the Azkals from a friend in Cadiz who read about another compatriot, Angel Guirado, who last played for Club Deportivo Ronda, another third division club and suited up for the Philippines in the AFC Challenge Cup and the recent 2014 World Cup Qualifiers.
Through social networking site Facebook, Martinez de Murga learned more about Guirado and his cousin, Rafael Garcia, the brother of basketball coach Caloy Garcia who is half-Spanish and half-Filipino. Garcia, who speaks fluent European Spanish, has served as a liaison for the Fil-Spaniards although Carli’s English is passable and much better than Guirado’s.
When asked if he was named after the famous Brazilian footballer who played alongside the great Pele on Brazil’s 1970 World Cup winning side, Carli shook his head. “I was named after a telenovela star,” quipped the FC Barcelona and Cadiz CF fan. His hometown team of Cadiz, affectionately known as El Submarino Amarillo (or The Yellow Submarine for its reputation of last ditch rallies to remain afloat if not shoot up to the top of the standings despite flirting with relegation earlier in the season), was relegated to the second tier following the 2005-06 season.
Carli made his debut with the Azkals in a friendly match with Ceres-Negros, the PFF Suzuki Under-23 National Champions, last September 13, 2011 at Panaad Stadium in Bacolod. The Azkals despite missing several first team regulars, beat the home side 3-1 with a brace from Mark Hartmann and a goal from Ian Araneta. Ruben Doctora Jr. scored the lone goal for Ceres-Negros.
The Fil-Spaniard, whose mother hails from Quezon City and says that pancit is his favorite Filipino food, will be joining the nationals in the 2011 Long Teng Cup that will be held in Taiwan from September 30 to October 4 and hopefully, for the U-23 team that will compete in the Southeast Asian Games in Palembang, Indonesia in November this year.
“I see some very good players in the Younghusbands, Mark Hartmann, and some others,” noted Martinez de Murga who in all probability will have “Carli” on the back of his jersey instead of his long surname. “I hope that I will be a big part as well. I am happy to compete for the Philippines. It is an honor.” Published in Bleachers’ Brew