“I did not expect to be in the international game this long” – Roberto Martínez
Until he took the Belgium job, Roberto Martínez felt much the same as any club manager: that there was rarely a timely international break. “But then, when you experience that side of football, you realise it takes the game into a different level,” he says. “Having a whole nation kicking a ball and celebrating a goal, or going through the misery of not being able to win a major tournament. Nothing unifies, or takes celebration to a global scale, like international football.”
Put like that, perhaps Euro 2020 will provide a salve for troubled times when it belatedly begins next June. Had Covid-19 not intervened so tragically, it is perfectly conceivable that Martínez would have been leading Belgium out at Wembley in the final on Sunday and their “golden generation”, a decade in the making, would have achieved its crowning moment.