Martínez says he plans to speak to all 26 players who were at World Cup, including Ronaldo
Roberto Martínez was officially unveiled today as the new manager for Portugal’s national football team, having signed a contract until 2026.
Martínez, who recently ended a six-year stint at the helm of Belgium’s national team, will be replacing Fernando Santos, the man who guided Portugal to its only two international titles (Euro 2016 and Nations League 2019).
“I’m very happy to be here, I’m delighted to be able to represent one of the most talented teams in the world,” the 49-year-old Spanish coach said at his introductory press conference.
The first question from the press was unsurprisingly about whether Martínez plans to continue calling Cristiano Ronaldo to the national team, despite his recent move to Saudi Arabia to play for Al-Nassr.
“Decisions have to be made on the pitch,” said Martínez. “I’m not a coach who makes hasty decisions. I want to meet everyone and starting today I want to talk and get to know all the players. Cristiano is part of that list.”
As Portugal’s new manager pointed out, Ronaldo spent “19 years with the national team and deserves respect.”
Martínez also said he wants to speak to every player who represented Portugal at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
“From there, it’s up to me to make the best list for the European Championship. Tomorrow we’ll start working, getting to know all the players, and Cristiano is one of them.
Meanwhile, the president of Portugal’s football federation (FPF), Fernando Gomes, welcomed Martínez and stressed that Portugal “has to be in the final stages” of international competitions going forward, setting the semi-finals as the bare minimum that the team must achieve.
“I appreciate the enthusiasm and ambition with which he (Martínez) received the invitation. This is an important moment for the national team,” said Gomes.
The FPF boss was also questioned about the rumours that suggested that the FPF had approached José Mourinho to take charge of the national team.
“We spoke with a lot of people. Everyone knows that I have a great relationship with most Portuguese coaches,” said Gomes.
He added: “What I can confirm is that the only concrete proposal we made went to Roberto Martínez.”
Roberto Martínez was a professional footballer, having spent most of his career in the UK playing for Wigan Athletic, Motherwell, Walsall, Swansea City and Chester City.
His coaching career started at Swansea City, followed by stints at Wigan and Everton, after which he took charge of Belgium’s national team.
While failing to win any titles for Belgium despite having one of the most talented generations of footballers at his disposal, Martínez lead the country to a third-place finish at the 2018 World Cup and to the number one spot of the FIFA world ranking.