Roberto Martinez jokes Scotland challenge stretches to his house as he salutes the magic of an 'incredible' man
Roberto Martinez has admired Steve Clarke from day one. He just had a funny way of showing it.
In fact, Martinez inflicted two brutal beatings on the Scotland boss at a time when Clarke was only just settling into his new job and trying his utmost to make a good impression. As if a butchering in Brussels was not bad enough, Martinez compounded it with a humiliation at Hampden during his time in charge of Belgium.
Those clobberings were straddled on either side by crushing defeats against Russia, all of which combined to obliterate any chance Clarke may have harboured of qualifying directly for Euro 2020. Through the front door at least. And they meant Clarke’s international career had opened up with a four game losing streak. But Martinez suspected all along that Scotland had appointed a footballing visionary. Last week the pair met up again in Paris after being put on collision course all over again in the top division of the Nations League.
And Martinez, who is now in charge of Portugal, was not in the least bit surprised to see him there. The Spaniard said: “Steve Clarke has done an incredible job. I played against him twice right at the start when I was in charge of Belgium and I’ve seen an incredible progression since then with the work that he has done.
“It’s as if, when he went into the job, it was almost a vision he had for the team. He’s building something very special that he’s ending up beating Spain, the current winners of the Nations League at home and qualifying for the Euros. It’s been a fantastic job that he has done and he has created almost a club feeling within the national team and I know how difficult that makes it for an opponent to have to go to Hampden. But now I have my own problems to deal with