Belgium has appointed former Everton manager Roberto Martinez as their new national team manager. Martinez was sacked by Everton less than two months ago.
The appointment of the 43-year-old Spaniard came as a shock to many, as he had a mediocre season in the Premier League with Everton, seeing the Toffees finishing in 11th place.
The Royal Belgian Football Association announced the hire on Wednesday. Martinez replaces Marc Wilmots who was fired after Euro 2016 as the Belgians were knocked out by Wales in the quarterfinals.
— BelgianRedDevils (@BelRedDevils) August 3, 2016
Martinez said during his first press conference as Belgium boss that he’s “always been intrigued by Belgian football. There are so many talented young players.”
With players like Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard at his disposal, the expectations will be high on Martinez. Lukaku played for Martinez at Everton, as had been subbed off in the Way Rooney Testimonial match at Old Trafford when the news broke. Lukaku is seen on the bench putting his hands over his face, and speculations went wild on social media that Lukaku found out about the Martinez hire.
— Everton FC News (@LivEchoEFC) August 4, 2016
Martinez spent three seasons in charge of Everton at Goodison Park, leading the team to a an impressive 5th place finish in his first season in charge. But the two following campaigns were big disappointments with the team finishing 11th both times. Prior to joining Everton, Martinez had stints with Wigan and Swansea City.
Martinez’s first game in charge will be a friendly against Spain on Sept. 1 before the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign kicks off against Cyprus on Sept. 6.