Roberto Martinez steps down as Belgium boss after poor World Cup

Thorgan Hazard, Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne of Belgium
Thorgan Hazard, Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne of Belgium / IMAGO

Belgium manager Roberto Martinez has confirmed that he has stepped down as Belgium coach following his side’s exit from the World Cup.

The Red Devils crashed out of the group stage in Qatar after a goalless draw with Croatia in their last game. They finished third in their group, behind eventual Group F winners Morocco and second-placed Croatia. 

Speaking after his side’s disappointing draw with Croatia, the 49-year-old coach whose contract is up at the end of the year confirmed he will not be extending his deal with the European side. 

When asked after the game if the hugs he gave to his players were goodbye hugs, the former Everton boss said; 

“Yes, that was my last game with the national team,” the former Everton boss said. “This is emotional, as you can imagine. I can’t carry on (answering), sorry.”

Martinez also stated that he was not disappointed at the way his tenure with Belgium ended, insisting that he has built a legacy. 

“I never look at it that way. I’m a person who likes to build things,” he said when asked if he was sorry about the end of his tenure. 

“I’ve been six years with the national team. I arrived with a clear job of qualifying for the World Cup and you get so engaged with the project and the people behind the players.

“And then we finished with a bronze medal (in Russia 2018) and it felt that we had to give it another go and it’s been a real joy.

“We’ve been able to build a real legacy, and I know a lot of people say you can only build a legacy by winning a major tournament, but I see it in a different way. I’m so proud of these players.”

When explaining what had gone wrong in Qatar, Martinez said: “I think it’s very clear. You come to the World Cup and you have to play three games and we only played one.

“The first games we were fearful, not the team that we are. We listened to the outside noise. We were feeling the responsibility. We played thinking if we lose a game we could be out and that’s what cost us.

“Today was a performance, and I felt we were the better team. We created better chances. Croatia are a great side and I felt today, had we gone through, you would have seen the real Belgium.”