Belgium’s national football coach Roberto Martinez gave a large telephone interview to The London Times in which he spoke about Belgian stars making an impact in the English Premier League.
He first recognized Kevin De Bruyne special role in the team. “Kevin is a modern playmaker. All the playmakers we know in the past needed to slow down the game before re-starting. What makes Kevin unique is that he gets the ball going faster, and sees the pass during the action. It gives you a tempo that we are not used to. He can play in position 10, a false 9, right wing, left wing, he can even play as a defensive midfielder. He excels in all these roles because he does not think in a certain system.”
“Kevin started very young, as a promising player at Genk, and from there he went through a very difficult period [at Chelsea]. He became an exceptional player after facing adversity. No player controls space like him. He can execute a pass with a precision and speed that few players can achieve, and he is now a mature and emotional intelligence.”
Martinez defended his captain, Eden Hazard, against recent criticism. “Eden showed [his abilities] in the World Cup. Eden became a real leader, showing his strength of character in several ways. Always present, always taking risks on the field. Edens showed that he is ready to take on the toughest challenges you can have in football. Going to Real Madrid was that kind of challenge, very unique in terms of the pressure placed on a player.
“Now, after the injury he suffered, I’m sure we will see the best Eden Hazard at Real Madrid.”
The Spaniard also defended his striker Romelu Lukaku who was regularly criticized in England when not scoring.
“He had two phenomenal seasons at Everton, but as soon as he left Everton [for Manchester United], it felt like everyone was going to point out when Rom didn’t score that his performance was bad. It was surprising to me, because Rom has exceptional qualities. He is a goal scorer, he cannot be judged for other things he does not do, like Diego Maradona who “could not tackle”, “could not be good in defensive play” or “could not use his right foot”. No one can say how many times Maradona used his right foot. Rom is a goal scorer. It is his job and it is what he does best.”
Martinez, who has long worked as a coach in England, also spoke of his life in Belgium in charge of the ‘Red Devils’.
“Working in Belgium, it is fascinating to see such a complex culture: three official languages, many political decision-makers, and one of the things that brings everyone together is the national team, The Red Devils. Is very powerful to use football in this way, to unite people, and people can feel that they can achieve anything with this generation of players.”