Lisbon, Jan 9 (EFE).- Roberto Martínez on Monday was appointed as the new head coach of the Portugal national team, replacing Fernando Santos who was sacked in December following the team’s loss to Morocco in the quarterfinals of the Qatar World Cup.
The 49-year-old Spanish coach takes to the helm of a squad that currently balances young talent with veteran experience from the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, who under Santos’ eight year tenure won the Euro 2016 and the 2019 Nations League.
“I’m very excited to be here and very happy to be representing one the most talented national teams in the world,” Martínez told a press conference at his presentation alongside the president of the Portuguese football federation, Fernando Gomes.
“I understand that there are some big targets and big expectations,” added the Spaniard, who arrives off the back of a six-and-a-half-year stint with Belgium, where he led the country’s so-called golden generation to third place at the 2018 World Cup.
As Portugal’s coach he has wealth of talent at his disposal, from promising stars like Gonçalo Ramos, Rafael Leão and João Félix to decorated stalwarts Bernardo Silva and Bruno Fernandes.
Martínez is also likely to be handed the tough decision on Ronaldo’s future in the squad.
His first competitive outings with the team are slated for March, when they take on Liechtenstein and Luxembourg in the Euro 2024 qualifiers.
Although he began his youth career in his native Spain, Martínez’s profile took off in the United Kingdom, where he played for the likes of Wigan Athletic and Swansea City until his retirement in 2007.
His managerial career kicked off that same year when he took charge of Swansea City and secured the Welsh team promotion to the second tier of English football, the Championship.
From there he moved to Wigan Athletic for a four-year stint that ended in a bittersweet season in which the northern English team lifted their first FA Cup only to be relegated from the Premier League days later.
He joined Belgium in 2016 after three years in charge of Everton.EFE