Roberto Martínez: ‘At the World Cup we need to show we are prepared to suffer’


Belgium’s manager, getting ready to face England in Russia, talks about criticism from his own players, the country’s golden generation and why opera is played in the camp

“Everyone remembers their first World Cup as their introduction to football,” Roberto Martínez says on an intriguing afternoon at Belgium’s training centre in Tubize. We’re just a short drive from Brussels but a long way from Sochi where Belgium, whom Martínez has managed since August 2016, play their first game as one of the tournament favourites against Panama on Monday.

“I remember my first World Cup in 1982, when I was 10, starting a Panini collection with my dad and getting all the stickers and trying to understand as much as I could about the other nations,” Martínez says. “So to be involved in the tournament, as an international manager, means a great deal. But, just like then, football is all about the players. I have a fantastic group and I believe totally in them.”

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Written by Donald McRae
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