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Page last updated at 14:54 GMT, Monday, 25 October 2010 15:54 UK

Spurned Swans set for Roberto Martinez reunion

Roberto Martinez
Roberto Martinez captained Swansea as a player before managing the club

By David Dulin
BBC Sport Wales

Roberto Martinez was a hero at Swansea City first as a player and then more so a manager.

The Spaniard was virtually untouchable. He put the Swans on the football map introducing an attractive, passing brand of football, winning plaudits far and wide.

He set the foundations for where the Championship club are today having cut his managerial teeth at the Liberty Stadium.

And during his time in charge, he went on the record as saying the only way he would leave Swansea was if he was "forced out".

But Martinez's love affair with the club's players, fans, board and the city as a whole was brought to a shuddering halt 16 months ago when he left to take charge at Wigan.

At the time of his departure, he was accused of "ripping the heart out of the club" by Swans chairman Huw Jenkins.

Now Martinez will come face to face with his former club in Tuesday's Carling Cup fourth round clash at the DW Stadium.

More than 4,000 Swans fans will be making the trip to Lancashire with many still not ready to forgive their former hero, who was also club captain in his playing days.

"I was obviously going to meet Swansea at some stage," said Martinez.

"The attachment I have to Swansea is more than just being a previous manager.

"I had great times there as a player, a captain and I've been through some very special and intense periods of the club's history - trying to away from relegation, moving from the Vetch Field to the Liberty and gaining promotion - so obviously playing them will be something very special for myself.

"In the cup competition, it will be a great opportunity for the two teams to play and the great shame is that only one will progress to the next round."

Martinez was part of the Swansea side that beat the drop from the Football League on the final day of the 2002/3 season.

He also enjoyed promotion from League Two and a Football League Trophy win, but was shown the door by predecessor Kenny Jackett in June 2006.

Rodgers 'continues' Martinez philosophy

Martinez, 33 at the time, was back at the Liberty Stadium in February 2007, though, as the Swans' new manager following Jackett's exit.

In his first full season in charge, he led Swansea to the League One title.

The following campaign, they narrowly missed out on a place in the Championship play-offs in their first season at second-tier level for 24 years.

But then Martinez's statement about being forced out came back to haunt him when Wigan, his other love, came calling.

The Latics were the first club Martinez played for when arriving in the UK in 1995 as part of the "Three Amigos", and he stayed for six years.

He instantly went from hero to villain in the eyes of many Swans fans on his exit in June 2009.

With Martinez gone - along with his backroom staff - sooner than many had predicted and hoped, it could have all gone horribly wrong for the Swans.

But the wounds have been patched up and they have kept progressing.

Martinez 'presence' still at Swans

Martinez' successor Paulo Sousa came and went last season without much love being lost.

But now there is a new man on the scene who is rapidly winning hearts in south Wales.

Brendan Rodgers will take his Swansea side to Wigan on Tuesday knowing the fans will want the last laugh and to put to bed the pain left by Martinez.

"I know Roberto and he is a good man and I know his feelings for this club," said Rodgers who took charge in July and has guided the Swans to third in the Championship.

"Sometimes as a young manager you get quoted on things and they don't entirely come out how you wish and maybe that made it difficult with his relationship for the supporters.

"But I would say speaking to Roberto that he's a good guy and he loves this club. And he'll obviously never forget the start it gave him in his managerial career and the chance to go to the Premier League.

"A lot of managers would have taken up the opportunity and he's done that but for me and the team it is about the game. We want to go and get into the next round."

Of course, it is not just about the Martinez reunion. For Swansea there is a bigger prize.

If they reach the Carling Cup quarter-finals, it will be for the first time in their history.



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see also
Wigan 2-0 Swansea
26 Oct 10 |  League Cup
Swans visit Wigan in Carling Cup
25 Sep 10 |  Swansea
Life after Roberto Martinez
08 Jun 09 |  Swansea
Wigan finally land boss Martinez
15 Jun 09 |  Wigan
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales


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