Roberto Martinez wants to build legacy after extending stay as Belgium manager


Martinez has been in charge of the Red Devils since 2016.

Roberto Martinez says he is excited to continue with Belgium’s “ambitious project” after signing a contract extension to remain as head coach until 2022.

The 46-year-old’s existing deal was due to expire this summer, having originally been timed to run out after Euro 2020 which has now been postponed until next year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Martinez has been in charge of the Red Devils since 2016, and guided them to third place at the 2018 World Cup and the top of the current FIFA world rankings.

“I am very, very happy because this is a very ambitious project,” the Spaniard said in a virtual press conference. “Really excited.

“Our president, Mehdi Bayat, has created a very efficient environment for us to work and our CEO, Peter Bossaert, is taking our situation into a different level of professionalism and direction.

“I do feel everything is in place to work towards a beautiful legacy in Belgian football.”

Put to him that a lot of people expected him to leave this summer as there had been rumours of him taking over at a big European club, Martinez said: “Well, I think we were all so intense with the qualifying campaign with the Euros.

Roberto Martinez led Belgium to third at the 2018 World Cup
Roberto Martinez led Belgium to third at the 2018 World Cup (Tim Goode/PA)

“I think the postponement of the Euros brings a completely different situation.

“I do believe immensely in this group of players. We’ve got a very committed staff and we all know how much the fans love the Red Devils.

“I do feel that it wasn’t the time to break that relationship, so it’s time to look forward to a very intense international period – we’ve got the Nations League, then the qualification campaign already for the World Cup and then we’ll be able to look forward to the Euros.

“So, it wasn’t the time and I do feel that our relationship needs to go further.”

Martinez’s new deal will see him remain in charge until after the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, in a double role that sees him serve as the Royal Belgian Football Federation’s (KBVB) technical director.

The news was announced by the KBVB with a short video in which Real Madrid forward and Belgium captain Eden Hazard is playing a game online while taking a phone call from striker Romelu Lukaku.

“Hi Romelu, did you see the coach has signed?” Hazard said. “Yes, isn’t that great news! OK, bye.”

Belgium were among the favourites for glory at Euro 2020, having won all 10 games in qualifying.