Roger Espinoza talks World Cup, FA Cup and how he’s love to add to his collection of great football memories this season.When Latics’ dynamic Honduran Roger Espinoza looks back on his career when he retires, there will be some standout memories: playing in two World Cups, shining for his country at the Olympic games….
“…winning the FA Cup with Wigan? I didn’t think it could get any better than that…but promotion back to the Premier League, now what a memory that would be.”
Talking exclusively to the Official Wigan Athletic website as the team’s German training camp nears an end, the Honduran international looks back on an incredible summer for him personally.
“I thought it would be a once in a lifetime experience after South Africa in 2010,”, he says, “but it’s happened a second time in Brazil. I’ll be 31 next time around if Honduras can make it again, so maybe I could be three once in a life time experiences for Russia in 2018, you never know!”
Espinoza understands what a privilege it was to play in the world’s biggest tournament.
He says: “This was only the third time in its history that the country qualified and to be a part of two of those times is something that makes me very proud. We’re the first generation to qualify for two consecutive World Cups, so that’s pretty incredible for me.
“It also shows that the team is progressing and hopefully this generation will set an example to the younger players coming through and show that it’s possible for a small nation like ours to play on the biggest stage of all.
Despite the disappointment of going out early, Espinoza says it was a fantastic experience.
“It was great being out there with the guys. The aim was to get through to the knockout stage. That didn’t happen but I still think that the team can be proud of the effort they put in. I think the supporters back home were disappointed, of course, we were too, but I think it has given everyone an incentive to try even harder to get through to the next finals and hopefully keep progressing.”
Espinoza says the heavy Latics connections in Brazil didn’t pass him by.
“I was up against another player Wigan fans know well against Ecuador, Antonio Valencia. I have met him a few times as he’s stayed in touch with Wilson and Maynor. He’s still the same quiet, respectful guy off the pitch. On it, though, he’s a very difficult player to play against, so quick and strong.”
Espinoza came face to face with an impressive array of talent in his other matches too.
“Yes, against France, I had to personally deal with Pogba, Valbuena and Debuchy, great players who each gave me something different to think about. And against Switzerland, I was up against their full-back Lichsteiner of Juventus most of the time, but then also probably their best player, Shaqiri, came across to my side. He’s so technical, he’s a small guy but is strong and has got such great feet. I think it can only improve you as a player, though, when you come across world class players and have to find a way of dealing with their threat.
And, now, after a short break, he has flown back to Europe to prepare for the new season.
“It’s been a tough summer for me in one way, but when you’re a kid growing up, you dream of being to play on the biggest stages, so if that means I don’t get much of a break this summer and I have to play a bit of catch up now, then that’s a sacrifice worth taking.”
And now Espinoza must start working on achieving his new memory in the making.
“We know how tough it will be but I truly believe we have the squad to do it and you can see already in this pre-season how hungry the guys are, how determined the manager is to get off to a good start and looking at the new signings who have come in, it’s clear to see that we’ve added more quality already.
“The new season…bring it on!”