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European adventure for Martin
MIDDLESBROUGH academy graduate Gary Martin was on target twice this week to power KR Reykjavik to the Icelandic Premier League title and earn a place in the Champions League.
The Darlington-born forward, who used to play for Boro reserves, hit two first-half goals to help KR to a crucial 2-1 win over city rivals Valur which led to a celebration party.
That victory opened up a five-point gap over reigning champions FH Hafnarfjordur and leaves KR, the biggest club in Iceland, planning for a Champions League campaign next year after claiming a 26th crown with two matches still remaining.
They will, though, have to win a qualifier in Europe's premier club competition for the first time since 2000 to reach the Champions League group stage.
He said: "Winning the league is an amazing feeling, it's one of the main reasons why I joined KR last summer. They are always title challengers, competing for trophies and playing in Europe. This is their fourth trophy in three seasons
"This is my first full season as a KR player and to win the league at the first attempt its fantastic. Playing in Europe and scoring was the highlight of my season, but this overshadows that by a long way.
"We put a lot hard work in during pre-season and at the training camp was in Spain. When you see your hard work pay off it's fantastic.''
Martin's double took his tally for the season to 11 goals, meaning he is the division's second top-scorer behind Fylkir's Vidar Kjartansson.
If he can overtake Kjartansson in the remaining matches he will become the first Englishman to win the Icelandic League's golden boot.
The 22-year-old's performances in front of goal were even more impressive considering that most of his appearances this season have not been as a direct striker.
He added: "It was good feeling to score the goals that gave us the three points and the title, but that wouldn't been possible without my team-mates, they have been fantastic this season .
"Having such a good season in front of goal and going for the golden boot, without them it wouldn't be even possible."
Now Martin has the Champions League to look forward to.
"FH, the Icelandic champions last year, got to the third round and were knocked out by Austria Vienna,'' he said. "They lost by one goal and could have played the likes of PSV or Lyon in the third round.
"It will be a fantastic experience playing in this competition, learning and testing myself against the best. It's also a great window for me to impress other teams and further my career."