Been there, done that

Roberto Martinez
Roberto Martinez

HAVING been there, done it and accumulated several t-shirts along the way, you’d think Roberto Martinez would be Great Escaped-out by now. Not a bit of it.

And as he reflects on arguably the most incredible, the most memorable, the most historic season in the history of Wigan Athletic Football Club, he knows one thing.

It was all worth it.

All the pain, all the sacrifice, all the low points – and there were plenty of those along the way, particularly before Christmas.

All worth it.

And what’s more? He’d do it all over again.

Maybe not leave it quite so late next time, admittedly. But as the Spaniard is the first to acknowledge, the greater the challenge, the greater the high when it’s chalked off.

Which is why he readily admits the latest Great Escape was undoubtedly the best of the lot.

“Yes it was, absolutely the best – and primarily because of the manner of the escape,” he tells the Observer, from the serene surroundings of his office.

“Any escape can be difficult and fascinating. But the way we have gone about this one has brought about massive amounts of credit from the outside.

“That has really shown Wigan Athletic in a different perception from what a lot of people had previously thought, and that’s been incredible.

“For far too long, I don’t think we’ve had perhaps enough credit for what we have achieved as a football club.

“To have lasted seven years in the Premier League is an incredible achievement.

“To have made seven into eight – having been written off by everyone in November, and with some of the best teams in Europe to play in the last couple of months – shows we deserve to be there.”

But did he ever fear the worst?

After the run of eight defeats in a row before Christmas?

After the run of 10 games without a win at the start of this year?

“No, I never thought it was beyond us – even at the lowest point – because I always felt we had enough games to turn it around and we had wins in us,” he reveals.

“I also looked at the characters we had in the dressing room, and that gave me a great deal of confidence.”