In­spired Roberto is ready to give it some Welly!

Daily Star Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - Paul Hether­ing­ton OUT

ROBERTO MARTINEZ has moved to Water­loo in Bel­gium – so he is ready for a World Cup bat­tle.

Af­ter 23 years liv­ing in Bri­tain, Bel­gium’s man­ager has now based him­self in a town fa­mous for an epic con­fronta­tion. Welling­ton’s de­feat of Napoleon in 1815 was a fa­mous vic­tory for an English­man.

And Martinez has to make sure he does not come off sec­ond best to an­other English­man – Gareth South­gate – when they meet in the fi­nal World Cup group game in Rus­sia.

Martinez, 44, moved to this coun­try in 1995 and played for Wi­gan, Mother­well, Wal­sall, Swansea and Ch­ester.

He then went on to man­age Swansea, Wi­gan and Ever­ton be­fore tak­ing charge of what he ad­mits is “Bel­gium’s golden gen­er­a­tion”.

So much so that he has been able to leave Crys­tal Palace striker Chris­tian Ben­teke and Roma mid­fielder Radja Naing­golan of his World Cup 23.

His squad is packed with Eng­land-based Premier League ta­lent. But the Span­ish boss of Bel­gium said: “As the man­ager of the na­tional side, I felt it was im­por­tant I moved to Bel­gium. “I also have to keep a close eye on the Pro League play­ers who are based there.”

De­spite be­ing packed with Premier League play­ers, Martinez in­sists Bel­gium are all about the team ethic – led by their big­gest su­per­star, cap­tain Eden Hazard.

Martinez said: “There is a real to­geth­er­ness and shared re­spon­si­bil­ity and Eden, as the cap­tain, has been lead­ing that.

“He is try­ing to un­der­stand the ex­pec­ta­tion that is on the shoul­ders of these play­ers but he wants to en­joy the op­por­tu­nity and en­cour­age the feel­ings that the fans have.

“The way that we work as a team is al­ways brave and he is al­ways the one who wants the ball. He is a leader by ac­tion.

“It has been great to see him over the last two years and the maturity that has come.

“He has old-fash­ioned val­ues. You won’t see him with the lat­est hair­cut. But he has a spe­cial abil­ity that peo­ple want to pay to watch.

“So too has Kevin De Bruyne. He has great vi­sion and that abil­ity to de­liver the right weight of pass.

“But we won’t rely on just one or two play­ers. You can’t think it is about in­di­vid­u­als – it’s about the team.

“In mod­ern foot­ball, you have to be out­stand­ing at some­thing but you still have to be part of the team.”

Bel­gium won nine of their 10 qual­i­fy­ing matches and drew the other.

And Martinez says of hav­ing to face Eng­land, Tu­nisia and Panama: “There is no such thing as a good draw or a bad one.

“It’s about mak­ing it a good draw. We had a good record in get­ting qual­i­fied but now we have to get down to the real de­tail.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.