BRUSSELS (AP) – Domenico Tedesco has been appointed head coach of Belgium’s national team with a mission to rebuild in the aftermath of the Red Devils’ World Cup disappointment.
The Belgian federation said Wednesday that the 37-year-old German-Italian, who previously coached Schalke, Spartak Moscow and Leipzig, has signed a deal until after the European Championship next year in Germany.
“For me it is a great honour to be the new head coach of Belgium,” Tedesco said. “I’m really looking forward to the task and I’m extremely motivated. I had a very good feeling right from the first conversation.”
Tedesco replaces Roberto Martinez, who led Belgium to a third-place finish at the 2018 World Cup and was in charge of the team for six years. Martinez stepped down after the Red Devils failed to progress to the knockout stage of the 2022 tournament in Qatar.
The team was ranked number one by FIFA for four years during Martinez’s tenure but never won a major tournament.
Martinez’s exit coincided with the likely breakup of Belgium’s so-called “Golden Generation”, an era featuring standout attacking players such as Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens.
The Belgian federation praised Tedesco’s “top-level international experience” as well as his “offensive style of football with plenty of forward pressure”.
“His mission is to qualify the Belgian Red Devils for the 2024 European Championship in Germany,” the federation said.
Belgium starts its qualifying campaign on March 24 against Sweden. Also, the Belgian federation appointed former international player Frank Vercauteren – who served as interim coach a few years ago – as its new sports director.
“Belgium has also been fortunate to be able to count on a large pool of talent for several years, but we must never rest on our laurels,” Vercauteren said.
“It is our duty to prepare the future. It is not enough to be strong on paper; the most important thing is to convert our qualities into results on the pitch, and this with all our national teams. This must be our ambition.”