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Mariano Ortiz  in London
Latinos in London   on 2012-10-01

Roberto Martinez, the Spaniard Instilling Beautiful British Football

The feisty Spanish football manager and former player currently holds the managerial position at England's Wigan FC and is widely regarded as one of the best managers in the country with a flair for bringing beautiful winning football to the teams he manages. He has gone from a risky buy for the Greater Manchester football club in 1995 to snubbing the hot-seat at Liverpool FC in 2012 and becoming a mainstream personality in British sporting culture, with regular broadcasting appearances on BBC Match of the Day, ESPN, Sky Sports, and ITV; which also demonstrate his flair for the English language. His favourite personality in football is Johan Cruyff, who he considers “a genius of the game”.

Born on 13 July 1973 in Balaguer, Spain, Martínez commenced as a defensive midfield player and played his first years of professional football at lower league Spanish side CF Balaguer. Wigan FC then welcomed him two years later in the English Third Division. There he became on corner of the Spanish triangle lovingly known by fans as "the three amigos" – alongside Jesús Seba and Isidro Díaz – he was a regular first team player for six years, the longest period of time he spent at one club. After over half a decade he moved to Scottish club Motherwell on a free transfer in 2001, but spent a disappointing period on the substitute bench as he was unable to break into the manager’s choice for first team.

Manager of the Month in 2008This brought a further transfer the following year, on this occasion to Walsall, where again he struggled to play regularly. Yet another move came in 2003, to Swansea, where he was made club captain and guided the Welsh side clear of relegation from the Football League.

He was an important part of the team from 2003 to 2006, making 123 league appearances and captaining them to promotion to League One in 2005. He moved to Chester City in 2006, and was again chosen to be captain. In 2007, Swansea contacted Martínez to offer him the position of manager. He accepted the offer and retired from playing, soon bringing success to Swansea. He won the League One Manager of the Year Award in his first season as Swansea were crowned League One Champions, which took the club back to England's second-tier division after a 24-year absence. Martínez became the manager of Premier League side Wigan Athletic in June 2009, who he has helped successfully avoid relegation for three seasons in a row.

Martínez has brought attractive “sexy” football to Wigan, a club with regular relegation worries and last season masterminded crucial victories over Liverpool FC, Manchester United, Newcastle and other big guns of the English Premier League. His tactical play and ability to squeeze memorable performances out of teams is notable to say the least, considering Wigan’s limited buying power within the league and the loss of Ecuador star Antonio Valencia to Manchester United a few seasons ago.

Though his decision last summer to remain loyal to Wigan’s relegation battles was admirable, it is clearly in the stars that he will choose to reward himself and fulfil his obvious potential at a bigger club. Wigan's tale of continued survival and heroic feats is a genuinely heart-warming one, but the limitations of the club prevent a certain talent from gaining the potential outright recognition European football can bring for a manager. Too much of a waste for someone of Martinez's calibre. At 38, he is still a very young manager, and thus shouldn't rush to move on, but the moment for him to take on bigger and grander challenges will definitely arrive sooner rather than later. There should be no shortage of takers, with Tottenham Hotspurs, Manchester City, Liverpool and Villareal all having expressed clear interest.


Being from the Spanish region of Catalunya, his roots seep through when asked about his personal preferences regarding other succesful individuals he admires. Barcelona art icon Salvador Dalí is his favourite artist while FC Barcelona legend Johan Cruyff is his choice in terms of football. His favourite food is any type of sea food while his favourite dish is snails and if allowed to serve any type of beverage, Cava of Catalunya would sit on his table. When recently interviewed, Roberto named British pop star Jessie J as a singer he listens to regularly.

This article is based on material from , which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0. The photograph at the top of this page is attributed to Premier League Inc.

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