West News Wire: Roberto Martinez, a former coach of Belgium, has been selected the next coach of Portugal. The Spaniard promised to meet with star player Cristiano Ronaldo to discuss his future with the club.
Martinez, 49, succeeds Fernando Santos, who resigned from his position after Portugal’s shocking World Cup quarterfinal loss to Morocco.
In a press conference on Monday with Martinez seated next to him, Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) President Fernando Gomes said, “I appreciate the excitement and ambition with which he [Martinez] accepted the invitation.
He declared, “This is a crucial time for the national team.”
Following Belgium’s elimination from the World Cup group stage, Martinez announced his resignation as coach, saying he had already made up his mind to conclude his six-year tenure some time ago and would have left even if they had been crowned champions.
It ended a long spell in charge of the side in which he took them to number one in the world rankings and third place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
“I am delighted to be able to represent one of the most talented teams in the world,” Martinez said. “I understand there are great expectations but I also understand there is a very large team [at the FFF] and together we will achieve our goals.”
The 68-year-old Santos, who was widely criticised for his tactics and for leaving forward Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench for two consecutive World Cup games, became Portugal coach in 2014 and led the country in 109 matches.
They won the European Championship in 2016 and UEFA’s inaugural Nations League in 2018-19.
Questioned about the future of Ronaldo in the national team, Martinez said that he would contact the 37-year-old, who last month joined Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr on a two-and-a-half-year deal.
“I want to contact all 26 players who were at the last World Cup. Cristiano is a player on that list,” he said, adding he would “sit down and talk” with the forward, who is his country’s all-time record scorer with 118 goals.