Champions League: Lautaro Martínez on Inter's Argentinian connection

"In Argentina, you're born with passion," Inter Milan's 23-year-old striker tells UEFA.com.

Lautaro Martínez celebrates a Serie A goal
Lautaro Martínez celebrates a Serie A goal Inter via Getty Images

As Inter Milan return to the UEFA Champions League group stage for a third season in a row, striker Lautaro Martínez spoke to UEFA.com about Argentina's contribution to the competition and the Inter great who helped the 23-year-old settle in at the club.

Inter's group stage schedule

 
On what drives Argentinian players to succeed

Watch Lautaro score against Slavia
Watch Lautaro score against Slavia

In Argentina, you're born with passion, with dedication, with heart, and that's something we always try to take to whichever football league we end up in. You can also see this in Argentina if you follow the league and watch the matches. The same is true of the national team. We always try to show that.

Talent comes first. That's something you’re born with. You also need to nurture that, of course. And grit comes second – prevailing physically and mentally, and trying to fight against all the obstacles that might get in your way.

On Lionel Messi

I know Leo more from the times we've been team-mates for the Argentine national team rather than from having come up against him. I've said it in the past, and will say it again now and in the future: he’s the best player in the world. The fact he's Argentinian is a source of pride for us and we always try to learn from him. For me, he’s on another level – he understands the game in a different way and he’s always a step ahead of everyone else.

On watching Inter's 2010 UEFA Champions League final win

2010 final highlights: Inter 2-0 Bayern
2010 final highlights: Inter 2-0 Bayern

I remember watching it at home with my family back in Argentina. It was very significant because there were a lot of Argentinian players in that team and it was such an important win for the club. Diego Milito scored both goals? Yes, that's right. Diego is a very important person and footballer in our country and I was able to play with him [at Racing Club], which I enjoyed very much. There are definitely a lot of Inter fans in Argentina because a lot of Argentinian players have been at this club.

On his Inter mentor Javier Zanetti

Javier is a very important Inter man, and for us [players] as well because he passes down to us everything he’s experienced at this club. He did so to me when I first came to Italy. Whenever I've needed something, he’s always tried to help me. He always lends an ear and asks how I'm doing or gives me a hand with anything I might need. He's always there to make sure I'm alright inside the club and outside too. Above all, he helped me with the language when I arrived, with what the club meant and how we train. He was very important in those matters, so I'll always be grateful to him. He really helped me out when I got here.