Roberto Martinez confirms he is NOT quitting as Belgium manager in wake of their Euro 2020 disappointment and says none of his ageing stars will consider international retirement after yet another tournament failure
Roberto Martinez has confirmed he will not be quitting as Belgium manager in the wake of their frustrating Euro 2020 quarter-final exit.
The Belgians and their ‘Golden Generation’ were heavily fancied to finally end their country’s wait for international glory this summer but once again came up short.
Kevin De Bruyne and Co breezed through the group stage with wins over Russia, Denmark and Finland before overcoming reigning champions Portugal in the last-16.
Roberto Martinez has confirmed he will not be stepping down as the manager of Belgium
But their campaign ended in the quarter-finals when they were beaten 2-1 by finalists in Italy in a thrilling encounter in Munich.
Martinez, 47, said the pain of that defeat by Italy was still too raw for him to make a decision on his future and refused to be drawn into saying something ’emotional’ in the aftermath but he has now confirmed he’s staying put.
Speaking in a press conference on Thursday, the former Wigan and Everton manager said: ‘The moment I feel I can no longer bring what it takes, I will be the first to throw in the towel.
‘The disappointment after the game against Italy was great, but the focus is already on the World Cup qualifiers in September and the final four of the Nations League a month later.
‘Only when I feel like I can’t add anything more will I leave. There has been a lot of talk about my future: before, during and after the tournament. I always find it hard to talk about myself because this isn’t about me.
Kevin De Bruyne and Co breezed through the group stage but were beaten in the quarter-finals
‘It’s about creating the best possible conditions in which footballers can work and develop. I still see a lot of energy in this group and this project is still on the rise.
‘This team is now ready to move on, to get back on the field. September can’t come soon enough.’
There has been plenty of debate over whether any members of Martinez’s squad would retire from international football in the aftermath of their Euros exit.
Key players like Thomas Vermaelen, Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens and Christian Benteke are all 30 or over.
While Martinez insists everybody is raring to go for the next batch of international games, he did stress the importance for the country’s young players to step up and take their chance in the transition.
Key players like Thomas Vermaelen (second from left) and Jan Vertonghen (third left) are entering the final stages of their career
He added: ‘Nobody thinks about quitting. The players of this team immediately want to continue, do better.
‘On the other hand, there are also no players that I am dissatisfied with and will therefore no longer call. The players have not failed at this tournament.
‘There is a list of twelve young players who are already involved in the national team and four of them – Jeremy Doku, Zinho Vanheusden, Charles De Ketelaere and Yari Verschaeren – have played several times.
‘The next twelve months are going to be very important for them, they have to dare to compete with the older guard.
‘Our job is to put the young people in the right environment, to create conditions in which they can perform, after that you have to let football decide. As a coach you only have to bring young players into the team who are ready for it.
Martinez insisted the future remains unclear over whether Thierry Henry will stay on his staff
‘Just being young and talented is not enough. We must support and help develop those talents, work on quality. Talents have been lost in the past.’
Martinez was once again assisted at the Euros by Thierry Henry, as he was at the 2018 World Cup. When asked if the Arsenal and France icon will stay on his coaching staff, the Spaniard said the situation remains unclear.
He said: ‘At the moment, no decision has been made about a possible collaboration in the future.
‘Much will depend on his personal situation, whether or not he is working for a club.
‘But it is clear that the relationship between him and the national team is very good.’