Roberto Martinez has confirmed that he has taken charge of Belgium for the final time following their World Cup exit, but he does not believe the country’s “golden generation” is over..
Belgium finished third in Group F after a 0-0 draw with second-placed Croatia on Thursday at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, ensuring the country’s first failure to qualify from a World Cup group since 1998.
Martinez, who led Belgium to their best World Cup finish in four years when they won bronze in Russia four years ago, was under contract until the end of the tournament and revealed he planned to leave regardless of how the Red Devils performed..
That was my final game for the national team, and it was bittersweet. I’m afraid I won’t be able to continue “Martinez, visibly moved, said at his post-match press conference.
“This was the end, whether we won or were eliminated from the group. It has absolutely nothing to do with being eliminated at this point.
“I’m a person who enjoys building things. I’ve been here for six years with the goal of reaching and winning the World Cup. We won a bronze medal in 2018 and decided to try again. It’s been a real pleasure.
“We’ve created a legacy. I’m sure others will see it differently, but I’m so proud of myself. Looking around the locker room, we have youngsters who can now be starters..
It’s been six incredible years of doing everything you want to do with a club and a national team.
“I’ve loved the way this team has played and brought so much joy to everyone.” This has been well received by Belgian fans. It’s time for me to accept that this is the final game.
“I’ve always wanted to be loyal and complete the task.” I’m not resigning; my contract is coming to an end. This was always the intention.”
Much of the discussion surrounding Belgium’s underwhelming campaign in Qatar has centered on the aging of a so-called “golden generation” of players, with Kevin De Bruyne declaring before the tournament that the Red Devils’ squad was “too old” to win the World Cup..
Martinez, on the other hand, does not believe Belgium’s best days are over, emphasizing how his team’s achievements can inspire the country’s next generation.
“You see players like Youri Tielemans, Amadou Onana, and Jeremy Doku,” Martinez explained to BBC Sport. “The golden generation is doing something to help the next generation.
“It is not always about who is on the field; the legacy can be left in a variety of ways.
“We are now out of a major tournament, and the standards must continue to rise, as must the young players.
“We wanted to get through, but I’m sure the other national teams did as well. That’s a tournament, and you’re in the best one in the world..
We won all three group games in the previous one [in 2018], but it wasn’t enough to go all the way. It’s the same feeling for me. Today, it was a method of defeat that you could accept.”
The Belgian Football Association’s CEO, Peter Bossaert, praised Martinez for leaving a “immense legacy” for future generations in the national team.
“With his team, Roberto left an enormous legacy for the next generations of Belgian football,” he said.
“Not only by implementing a modern structure for analysis, education, and scouting, but also by initiating preparation for the next step in the careers of players aspiring to be coaches..
But he also made a significant contribution to the expansion of Tubize’s brand-new, cutting-edge football center.
“Last but not least, we thank him for bringing a familiar atmosphere into our home and for being an excellent ambassador for Belgian football.” The entire RBFA staff will miss him greatly. We wish Roberto Martnez all the best in the future.”
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