Beginning his second season as the head coach of Atlanta United this year, Gerardo “Tata” Martino has already experienced a ton of success.
With his pressing and attacking style of soccer, Martino led the club to a 15-10-9 record and an appearance in the playoffs in its inaugural season. Atlanta fans embraced the team, shattering Major League Soccer’s previous attendance records.
One city in metro Atlanta wanted to honor the coach for his contribution to the advancement of soccer in the region. On Monday night inside Roswell’s packed city council chambers, mayor Lori Henry presented Martino with the “key to the city.”
Henry, who is in her first year as mayor of Roswell, called Martino a role model, a “legendary coach” and thanked him for “his inspiration to soccer and youth soccer in Roswell and the state of Georgia.”
“Roswell is a big fan of soccer,” she said.
The city boasts 16 soccer fields and more than 3,500 youth players, making it the most participated sport in Roswell, Henry said.
Before coming to Atlanta, Martino played the game professionally for 17 years for clubs across the globe and for the Argentina National Team. As a coach, he led the famous F.C. Barcelona, clubs across South America and the national teams of Paraguay and Argentina.
A 55-year-old native of Argentina, Martino thanked the council for the “wonderful honor,” welcoming him to the city and for supporting soccer in Roswell.
As Henry and councilmembers spoke during the presentation, Roswell resident Janet Russell and councilman Marcelo Zapata interpreted, for the coach, who speaks Spanish.
Zapata, the Post 1 councilman elected in 2015, is also a native of Argentina. Henry said Zapata was “instrumental” in bringing Martino to the city.
“(Martino) has inspired so many soccer players in the state of Georgia,” Zapata said. “Tata, you were a great professional player, you are a very talented coach and most important, you are a wonderful person.”
Atlanta United begins its second MLS season on March 3, on the road against the Houston Dynamo. | For updates on the team through training camp and the preseason, follow Doug Roberson’s coverage at the AJC.