Portugal hires Martínez as its new national team coach

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LISBON, Portugal: Portugal hired former Belgium coach Roberto Martínez to lead its national team on Monday.

The Spaniard replaces Fernando Santos, who quit in December after Portugal’s elimination against Morocco in the quarterfinals of the World Cup. Santos left amid the controversy of benching Cristiano Ronaldo in the knockout stage of the tournament in Qatar.

Martínez ended his six-year stint with Belgium after the team’s disappointing group-stage elimination at the World Cup, when he again failed to lead the nation’s golden generation to a triumph.

He arrives to a Portugal team filled with talented players like Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes and João Félix, but also amid doubts over the future of the 37-year-old Ronaldo, who is now playing in Saudi Arabia.

The 49-year-old Martínez coached Belgium to a third-place finish at the 2018 World Cup. The Belgians were ranked No. 1 by FIFA for four years during Martínez’s tenure but never won a major tournament despite having talented players like Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku, the country’s all-time leading scorer.

Martínez had said he made the decision to leave Belgium before the World Cup in Qatar. He was also the national team’s technical director since 2020.

Martínez played and coached in England before he was hired by Belgium in 2016. His most impressive achievement in club management was winning the FA Cup with Wigan in 2013. The club was eventually relegated from the Premier League that same season, with Martínez then appointed by Everton, where he lasted three years before being fired.

The 68-year-old Santos left after eight years in charge of Portugal, having led the national team to titles in the 2016 European Championship — the country’s first major trophy — and the 2019 Nations League. He reached an agreement with the federation to leave two years before his contract was to end.


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