Martin Skrtel is a defender for Slovakia and Liverpool in the English Premier League. He has come to be an integral member of both teams, who need his tough-tackling and willingness to put his head in where it hurts. He is an adept centre-back, who is good in the air and reasonably comfortable on the ball. When he was signed by Liverpool, Rafa Benitez pointed to his youthfulness and said that he expects Skrtel to be at Anfield for many years to come.
Martin Skrtel was born on 15th December 1984 in Handlova, which is now in Slovakia following the break up of Czechoslovakia. He had an uncomplicated up-bringing, with football being one of his few pleasures. The hardships he suffered helped him to become the no-nonsense defender that we know today.
Skrtel signed his first professional contract with his local side Prievidza, before moving up a step to Trencin in the top division of the Slovakian league. Some accomplished performances for the team, at centre-back, won him a move to Zenit St Petersburg. The fact that there were so many other Czechs and Slovakians helped him to find his feet, and Skrtel was soon inflicting damage on the opposition’s attackers. Zenit won the Russian league in 2007, and Skrtel was suddenly in demand – Newcastle, Tottenham and Chelsea were all linked with him.
Martin Skrtel arrived in Liverpool during the January 2008 transfer window, for a fee of £6.5m. Because the Russian season had finished some weeks prior, he was out of practice – making adapting to the English game even harder. He put in some hard-working performances, and won the Kop over with his sheer energy and concentration.
Skrtel competes with Daniel Agger, Jamie Carragher and Sami Hyypia for a spot in the centre of defence, but has proved himself to be invaluable.
Martin Skrtel made his international debut in May 2004, when he was just 20 years old. He had already represented his country at U-21 level, but his form and big move to Zenit triggered a promotion to the first-team. Slovakia failed to reach the World Cup 2006 and Euro 2008, but Skrtel is hopeful of leading his country to a major finals in the near future.