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Roberto Martínez leaves Belgium after World Cup elimination

Belgium missed out on a place in the World Cup round of 16, with Morocco and Croatia qualifying at their expense.

Roddy Cons
Belgium missed out on a place World Cup round of 16, with Morocco and Croatia qualifying at their expense

Roberto Martínez is to leave his post as Belgium manager following the country’s failure to make it out of the group stages at the Qatar 2022 World Cup. In a post-match interview to the BBC following the goalless draw against Croatia, the Spaniard had originally claimed that “it wasn’t the time” to discuss his future but revealed shortly afterwards in a press conference that he wouldn’t be continuing in charge of the Red Devils: “That was my last game with the national team and it was emotional, as you can imagine.”

Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano revealed on Twitter that Martínez had made the decision to step down from his role before the tournament after six years in charge.

The stalemate against the Croats, in which striker Romelu Lukaku missed a host of opportunities after coming on as a substitute in the second half, saw Zlatko Dalić's team and Morocco progress from Group F at Belgium’s expense. Martínez’s side had undeservedly beaten Canada in their opening match of the tournament but suffered a 2-0 defeat to the North Africans in their second game, which ultimately proved to be the fatal blow.

Was the Qatar 2022 World Cup the last chance for Belgium’s ‘golden generation’?

Belgium had gone into the World Cup in second place in the FIFA world rankings but with many of their key players now the wrong side of 30, it was widely believed that the nation’s ‘golden generation’, comprising the likes of Lukaku, Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Thibaut Courtois, had already missed their best chance to win an international trophy.

Martínez, who previously managed Wigan Athletic and Everton in the Premier League, had been trusted with leading an undoubtedly talented roster to glory but has failed to do so, finishing third in the 2018 World Cup before losing to eventual winners Italy in the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 in his two previous tournaments at the helm.