Swansea boss Brendan Rodgers hails Roberto Martinez role

Brendan Rodgers has hailed Roberto Martinez's contribution to Swansea City as the former boss prepares for his return to the Liberty Stadium.

After a successful period as manager, Martinez left the Welsh club to join Wigan Athletic in 2009, a move which angered many Swansea fans.

But current boss Rodgers hopes the Spaniard will receive a warm welcome before Saturday's Premier League game.

"He's made a valuable contribution to the club," said Rodgers.

"As a manager he set in place a way of playing and he brought his own identity to the group.

"If you look at Roberto's time here he had a fantastic period and I think everyone acknowledges that. I know he thinks a lot of Swansea.

"I'm sure there will be some supporters who may well be upset. I would say to the supporters to give him a good reception and then as soon as the game starts you throw everything into Swansea again."

Martinez joined Swansea as a player in January 2003 and was captain when they beat Hull City on the final day of the 2002-03 season to preserve their Football League status.

He returned to south Wales in February 2007 to succeed Kenny Jackett and during his two years in charge led the Swans to promotion to the Championship after winning the League One title.

The ex-Real Zaragoza player stated at the time he would only leave Swansea as manager if he was "forced out" but left to join former club Wigan Athletic in June 2009 to the dismay of many fans.

But Martinez has told Friday night's Sport Wales programme that he is looking forward to returning to a club that holds so many good memories for him.

"It's always hurtful for supporters whenever you lose someone as close to them as probably what Roberto was," added Rodgers.

"As a player he captained the club, he understands the depths of which the club had dropped to and then he rose with them as a manager.

"But I think if you look at it from a manager's perspective, where he was at, he had developed the club really well.

"[He] brought them into the Championship and then he had the chance to go to a club that was an established Premier League club and obviously a club he knew well.

"Obviously at the time it probably hurt when he left. But in your career you get the chance to move and then you have a decision to make and he made the choice to go.

"The club has got a structure behind it that allows it to continue to grow if they make the right choices and that's how the club has moved on since he's left."

Under the leadership of Martinez, Wigan have preserved their Premier League status over the last two campaigns, including survival on the final day last season.

Survival will be Swansea's priority this season and boss Rodgers has spoken of the importance of securing points at the Liberty Stadium.

"This is their seventh season as a Premier League club. They are an established Premier League club," Rodgers said of Wigan.

"They've got the resources and the finances over a number of years to build a good squad. They've got very good players who can win a football game.

"But I believe in the group I have. They're a real special group, they're very honest and they go into every game to give their maximum. It should be a very, very good game."

*Watch Sport Wales this Friday on BBC Two Wales at 1900 BST for the full Roberto Martinez interview and the best of the rest of the news from the world of Welsh sport.

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