Wigan's Roberto Martínez 'proud' of Swansea as he prepares for return

Roberto Martínez was married in Swansea on 27 June, and took up his new job as manager of Wigan Athletic two days later.

Wigan's Roberto Martínez 'proud' of Swansea as he prepares for return He has not been back since, but as luck would have it Wigan provide the opposition at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday for the first ever Premier League game to be played outside England.

"It is destiny, it is going to be a great occasion," Martínez says. "I'm really proud of what was achieved in my time at Swansea, and it will be an emotional return for me, even if some of the fans do not like me any more. I'll take what's coming to me, I know how football works and I respect the views of Swansea supporters. If they want to boo me, that's fine. We played Swansea in the Carling Cup last season and there were a few banners, so I know what to expect. But I hope that even if they don't show it, the Swansea fans respect the job I did when I was there. We got the club moving in the right direction, and in view of the fact that Swansea gained promotion to the Premier League after I'd gone, I don't think anyone can say my decision to leave was such a bad one."

Martínez first came to this country in 1995 to play for Wigan, and joined Swansea as a player eight years later. They were still playing at the Vetch Field and fighting for league survival, but after helping them avoid relegation from League Two on the last day of the 2003-04 season, Martínez was a member of the side that won promotion to League One the following year. Returning as manager in 2007, with the team rehoused at the Liberty Stadium, he stayed two years and secured promotion to the Championship after winning the title in his first full season.

"I don't really want to speak about what I achieved at Swansea, because it wasn't just me it was a whole lot of people," he says. "It was a team effort, a group of people working together, and that's what makes me feel so proud. When I arrived we were mid-table in League One and there was very little to spend, so I felt we had to be a little bit creative.

"I felt that all we could change was the way we played, so that is what we did. We changed the system, put more emphasis on retaining the ball, picked up a few results and developed a winning mentality. I can't take any credit for getting Swansea into the Premier League, that's all down to Brendan Rodgers, but I think you could see at Manchester City the other day that Swansea still play with a lot of confidence. Not many other teams will go to Eastlands and put 500 passes together. I don't think anyone else passed so well in the opening weekend, and despite the result at City [Manchester City won 4-0] I think Swansea's self-belief, call it arrogance if you like, will serve them well. They will certainly be a tough proposition for anyone at home, and from a footballing point of view I could think of better times for Wigan to be playing them.

"I believe they will surprise a few teams this season, I've just got to do my best to make sure they don't surprise us. On the other hand I am not surprised to see players such as Angel Rangel, Ashley Williams and Nathan Dyer performing in the Premier League. We always knew they had potential, that's why we brought them in."

Martínez made an effort to learn Welsh in his time in the country, though confesses it was more difficult than he had imagined. "The language is tricky, but I loved the people," he says. "The Welsh are similar to the Catalans in their passion, their love of sport and sense of community. In an ideal world they would welcome me back warmly, but the game doesn't work quite like that. I think at least a group of Swansea fans will let me know they are still not happy at what I did."

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Paul Wilson, for guardian.co.uk on Thursday 18th August 2011 22.00 Europe/London

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