Roberto Martinez says he’s excited to continue Belgium’s “ambitious project” after signing a contract extension to stay as head coach until 2022.
The coach, a new 46-year-old, was supposed to leave this summer, having originally been scheduled to leave after the Euro 2020 period. Now, his departure has been delayed until next year set to the coronavirus pandemic.
Martinez has been in charge of the Red Devils since 2016 and led them to third place at the 2018 World Cup and the top of the latest FIFA world rankings.
“I am very, very happy because this is a very ambitious project,” the Spaniard said in a virtual press conference. “Really excited.” The news was also confirmed by a FIFA World Cup tweet.
Martinez’s new contract will see him stay in charge until after the 2022 Qatar World Cup, in a double position that he sees as the technical director of the Royal Belgian Football Federation (KBVB).
Martinez himself stated, “Our president, Mehdi Bayat, has created a very efficient environment for us to work and our CEO, Peter Bossaert, is taking our situation into a different level of professionalism and direction.
“I do feel everything is in place to work towards a beautiful legacy in Belgian football.”
Belgium were among the favourites for glory at Euro 2020, having won all 10 games in qualifying.
There had still been rumours of him taking over at a big European club. When asked whether a lot of people expected him to leave this summer, Martinez said: “Well, I think we were all so intense with the qualifying campaign with the Euros.
“I think the postponement of the Euros brings a completely different situation.
“I do believe immensely in this group of players. We’ve got a very committed staff and we all know how much the fans love the Red Devils.
“I do feel that it wasn’t the time to break that relationship, so it’s time to look forward to a very intense international period – we’ve got the Nations League, then the qualification campaign already for the World Cup and then we’ll be able to look forward to the Euros.
“So, it wasn’t the time and I do feel that our relationship needs to go further.”
The news was announced by the KBVB with a short video featuring Real Madrid and Belgium captain Eden Hazard playing an online game while taking a phone call from striker Romelu Lukaku.
“Hi Romelu, did you see the coach has signed?” Hazard said. “Yes, isn’t that great news! OK, bye.”