Andres Martorell’s footballing journey back home

Andres Martorell.

Andres Martorell.

What is it like to grow up in a soccer mad city, where international footballers are your neighbours and best friends? A new programme on Galway based Uruguayan singer Andres Martorell will reveal the answer.

Andres Martorell is one of the most prominent members of Galway city’s Latin American community. He is a singer, songwriter, and entertainer, the owner of Galway Voice Studios, and one of the few speech level singing teachers in Ireland.

He will also be the subject of the next Welcome To My World programme which will be broadcast on RTÉ 1 tomorrow at 7.30pm. The programme focuses on the lives and backgrounds of people from around the world who now live in Ireland.

“My friend Anita told me RTÉ were casting for the show, she said, ‘Give them a call’,” Andres tells me, about how he came to be involved in Welcome To My World. “The producers interviewed me and then came to my house and interviewed me about my childhood and how I came to Ireland, and then plans had to be made to get to Uruguay.”

Andres is originally from Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, a small country in South America bordered by Brazil to the north and Argentina to the south. The national sport is football and Uruguay was both the first country to hold the World Cup in 1930 and to win it, beating Argentina 4-2 in the final in the Estadio Centenario in Montevideo.

“I brought along my friend Shane Lennon with me when we were making the programme and we went to the Uruguay v Argentina game in the Centenario,” says Andres. “Uruguay lost one-nil but it was still amazing with all the lights and blue smoke and 70,000 people screaming and cheering. Because we were filming in the stadium, we were given passes that allowed us to go anywhere we wanted. We felt very important for those 90 minutes.”

Andres grew up in the Villa Española area of Uruguay, where many Spanish and Italian immigrants settled in the late 19th and early 20th century.

“My grandfather was Italian and my great grandfather was from Catalunya,” he says. “If you looked out of the window on our block you could see all the slums. Going back now, it’s more or less the same, but things are a little better now as Uruguay is doing better.”

Returning to Montevideo gave Andres a chance to catch up with many of his old mates from the neighbourhood, and the programme sees him enjoying a game of soccer with his friends Marcelo Sosa, formerly of Atlético de Madrid, and Uruguayan international Hamilton Herrera.

“Marcelo Sosa is one of my best friends and you will see us going to his house,” says Andres. “Villa Española is big into soccer and Marcelo Zalayeta, who was with Juventus for many years, and Álvaro Recoba, who was with Inter Milan, came from here.”

As well as venturing inside Marcelo Sosa’s house, Welcome To My World will also drop into Andres’ parents home. “It was really strange as it’s a kind of a reality show,” laughs Andres. “They opened up the door and there was this van outside with a camera crew from RTÉ jumping out and getting ready to go into their house.”

Now back in Galway, Andres is continuing to teach students at his studio and will present the Galway Voice Studio students’ showcase concert, featuring 20 performers, in The Quays this Sunday from 6pm (Admission is €10 and for more information contact 091 - 441002, 086 - 0693518 ).

Andres is also lead vocalist with the Galway based salsa band Cuba Libre which will have a weekly Wednesday night residency in Massimo, Sea Road, starting on March 24. He is also working on an album with the Polish/Spanish singer Magda Navarrete.

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