Roberto Martinez has revealed the opportunity to manage the Belgium national team was the only offer which made him smile following his sacking by Everton.
After a decade in Britain managing Swansea, Wigan and the Toffees, Martinez said he was keen to take his experience onto the international stage.
‘After finishing at Everton the options that I had didn’t propose anything different than I have done in the last 10 years.’ Martinez told The Telegraph.
‘It was almost allowing something that would make me smile and that was clearly, by a mile, this opportunity. I wanted to use all the experience I have had over the last 10 years and take it to international level.’
Martinez has guided Belgium to the top of World Cup qualifying Group H with four wins from four after netting 21 goals ahead of hosting Greece on Saturday.
The former Everton boss, who endured a miserable final campaign at Goodison Park before his sacking before the last game of the season, was intrigued by the Belgium squad and the current golden generation the country boasts.
‘I don’t see it as ‘taking international football’. I see it as ‘taking this squad’,’ he says. ‘I was intrigued. I had managed Marouane Fellaini, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas at Everton – three Belgian players who are as different as you are going to get.
And then you have the number of Belgium players in the Premier League and I was even more intrigued to find out why Belgian football has produced this generation. And then to be able to manage this group at international level was the perfect fit at that moment.
‘If someone had asked me a year ago I would have said, ‘No, I don’t see myself in international football’. But when the opportunity was there I felt it was perfect.
The Belgium federation involve him at every level and Martinez says his role isn’t just focused on the World Cup in 2018 but also with bringing through the next golden generation.
Martinez is not just trageting tournament success but ‘how we can maintain this structure, to develop young players for Belgian football so it doesn’t run out after this generation, understanding the league and how it can develop those young players’.