New Portugal manager Roberto Martinez plans talks with Cristiano Ronaldo

Spaniard replaces Santos as coach just weeks after leaving Belgium following six-year spell in charge

New Portugal manager Roberto Martinez alongside FPF president Fernando Gomez after the Spaniard's unveiling. AFP
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Roberto Martinez has been named as the new manager of Portugal and said at his first press conference that he plans to “sit down and speak” with Cristiano Ronaldo about his future.

Former Belgium coach Martinez succeeds Fernando Santos, who left the role after eight years in charge after the World Cup last month after leading the team to their first international titles: the 2016 European Championship and the inaugural 2019 Nations League.

Martinez was himself available after his six-year spell with Belgium ended following a disappointing tournament in Qatar.

The Spaniard led Belgium to the top of the world rankings, third place at the 2018 World Cup and the quarter-finals of Euro 2020. However, they underperformed in the Middle East and exited at the group stage after winning just one of their three matches.

The 49-year-old takes over a Portugal side that reached the quarter-finals but suffered a shock loss to Morocco after a campaign overshadowed by issues concerning veteran star Ronaldo.

“I am very excited to be here,” said Martinez at a press conference on Monday. “I am very happy to represent one of the national teams with the best talent in the world.

“From the first time I spoke with the president of the federation I knew this was a sporting project that would excite me.

“I understand there are great expectations and big objectives, but there is a great team of people at the federation and I have great excitement that together we can achieve those objectives.”

The first question faced by Martinez at his presentation concerned Ronaldo.

The 37-year-old travelled to the World Cup with controversy raging over an explosive TV interview he gave that ultimately led to his departure from Manchester United.

There was then much speculation over his club future – ultimately resolved when he signed for Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr last month – while his performances on the field and attitude also attracted criticism.

He was left out of the starting line-up for Portugal’s last two matches of the tournament and his international future is uncertain.

“Footballing decisions have to be taken on the field. I am not a manager to make decisions in an office,” said Spaniard Martinez, who has also managed British club sides Swansea City, Wigan Athletic and Everton.

“I want to contact all the players in the squad, the list of 26 players, from the last World Cup. That is my starting point and Cristiano is one of the players on that list.

“He has spent 19 years in the national team. We will sit down and speak.”

Portugal face Liechtenstein in their opening Euro 2024 qualifier in March. They also face Iceland, Luxembourg, Slovakia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in their campaign.

FPF president Fernando Gomez said: “The new national coach had to be ambitious, knowledgeable about international football, used to training players at the highest level with experience in the best championships and, ideally, national teams.

“From the first conversation with Roberto Martinez it was immediately clear that he fit the profile.”

Updated: January 09, 2023, 1:57 PM