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Roberto Martinez ends reign as Belgium boss

Roberto Martinez ends reign as Belgium boss

Roberto Martinez has announced that he is bringing his reign as Belgium coach to an end after the nation’s exit from the World Cup.

Despite being ranked in second place in the FIFA standings, Belgium could only finish third behind Morocco and Croatia in Group F.

The Red Devils went into Thursday’s encounter with Croatia requiring all three points to progress through to the last 16, but a number of squandered opportunities led to a goalless draw being played out in Al Rayyan.

By their own high standards, Belgium have endured a dismal 2022, winning just five of 11 matches in all competitions and one of their four defeats coming against Morocco last weekend.

After six-and-a-half years in charge, Martinez has now taken the decision to leave his post with his contract expiring at the end of the tournament in Qatar.

Belgium manager Roberto Martinez on October 10, 2017© Reuters

In total, the Spaniard recorded a total of 56 wins and just 11 defeats in 80 matches, although his time in charge is dominated by near misses with Belgium’s so-called golden generation.

Belgium reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup, beating Brazil in the last eight before suffering a 1-0 defeat to eventual winners France, while they bowed out to Italy in the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 before the Azzurri went on to lift the trophy.

Their wait for silverware was prolonged at the 2021 UEFA Nations League Finals as Belgium blew a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 at the hands of France, who extended the trend of Martinez’s side losing to eventual winners.

Addressing his decision to leave Belgium at a press conference, Martinez said: “That was my last game. It was emotional as you can imagine. The decision was taken just before the World Cup. I always work towards the long-term projects and they need to be set in advance.

“Since 2018, I had many opportunities to leave to take jobs at club level. I always wanted to be loyal and finish the job. I don’t resign – it is the end of my contract. That was always the plan.”

 Belgium coach Roberto Martinez, November 16, 2021© Reuters

The 49-year-old added: “It’s been six years since I arrived with a clear idea to qualify for the World Cup. You get engaged with the people and we felt we needed to give it another go.

“It’s been a real joy. I’m so proud of these players. It’s been amazing, it’s been six years that we have been able to do everything you want to do in a club in a national team and that makes me extremely proud. We love the way this team has played.

“It has given us incredible joy. It is the time for me to accept that this is the last game.”

Martinez is now expected to take a break before pursuing another role in club football, his last position being at Everton between 2013 and 2016.

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