Roberto Martínez: “Portugal must always aim to win as a modern team, with tactical flexibility”

Spaniard presented as new Portugal coach

Roberto Martínez was today officially presented as Portugal’s new head coach at the FPF headquarters at Cidade do Futebol in Oeiras, signing a contract until 2026.

The 49-year-old Spaniard becomes the third foreign coach to manage the Seleção after Brazilians Otto Glória and Luiz Felipe Scolari, both of whom led Portugal to World Cup semi-finals, their most successful finishes in the tournament. 

Portuguese Football Federation head Fernando Gomes is confident the right choice has been made. “From the first time we talked to Roberto Martínez it was clear he fitted the profile we were looking for,” said Gomes.

“Obviously we spoke to a lot of people, but the only coach who we made a concrete offer to was Roberto Martínez. We believe Portugal should always be at the decisive moments in tournaments, at least reaching the semi-finals. We will do everything to make sure his time as Portugal coach is a long and happy one.” 

The floor was then left open for Martínez to field questions from the assembled journalists. Below is a translation of the answers showing the main ideas of the new Seleção head coach. 


“I’m going to try and learn Portuguese as quickly as possible. I’m very excited to be in one of the most talented nations in the world. When I received the invitation it was a project that really motivated me.” 

Systems / formations

“I don’t believe in systems. I believe in players, in human beings and in talent. You need to be tactically flexible to get the most out of every player, rather than the players adapting to the system.

“Portugal must always aim to win and to do that you need to be a modern team, with tactical flexibility. Playing with a 3-man or 4-man defence depends on the players available, and the job for me and my coaching staff will be to get the maximum out of every player.” 

Ronaldo / selection options

“Football decisions have to be made based on what happens on the pitch, not in an office. I will contact all the 26 players who were in Portugal’s World Cup squad as my starting point, and Ronaldo is on that list. He has played for the Seleção for 19 years and deserves the respect to sit down and talk.

“We have 10 weeks to create the best team for the first game. Tomorrow we start working on that.

“There are 54 Portuguese players playing in Europe’s top leagues who are 28 years old or under, and Benfica and FC Porto are in the Champions League. I will respect all these players, many of whom I have faced as an opponent and I am delighted to now have them on my side.”

Portuguese member in the coaching staff

“The makeup of the coaching team is clear. After seven years as an international manager I know what is needed. We will finalise it in the coming days.

“But I want to have a Portuguese assistant, a former Seleção player who has had an international career. I think it will be very important to accelerate our understanding of Portuguese football.”

Portugal European champions?

“Of course, it’s important to dream big, but we have to take it one step at a time. To be European Champions you first have to qualify. To be World Champions you first have to qualify. From then onwards, you have to dream.”

By Tom Kundert