Mario Melchiot speaks fondly of his time with Wigan Athletic ahead of meeting with another of his former clubs, Birmingham City, this weekend.
- Mario Melchiot speaks to Latics Listen ahead of Wigan Athletic v Birmingham City.
- Melchiot: “It was a big honour to be Wigan Athletic captain”.
- Listen to Mario Melchiot on Latics Listen.
Mario spoke to us about his career, his work since leaving football and his fondness for Latics after playing a century of games for the club between 2007 and 2010.
Explaining how his transfer from Rennes to Latics came about, Melchiot said:
“Wigan came in during the winter, they were trying to buy me because I was still under contract in France.
“I didn’t want to move at the time because I felt like I could push with Rennes into the European Cup.
“However, I knew that I wanted to be back in England too so it was a perfect fit because I knew that Wigan were willing to wait and they said that if they can stay in the Premier League then I would be the first player that they wanted and they came through with that.
“I was fortunate that I had a coach and a chairman that really wanted me; as a player, when you get those two on one side, that’s the first place you’re going to pick because normally it is just the coach that wants you.”
After arriving in Wigan, the Netherlands international was quick to take on further responsibility, he continued:
“It was a funny thing because as soon as I flew back from international duty, I went to the DW Stadium and Mr. Whelan and the coach Chris Hutchings sat me down and said to me this is the philosophy of the team, the objective, why we brought you here,”
Melchiot explained. “I was on board with that because I had suffered relegation at Birmingham previously and that was something I wished to never happen again.
“They said to me straight away, I hadn’t even kicked a ball, that they would like me to be club captain. That was a big honour for me and showed me the kind of commitment they wanted to make towards me.”
Signed by Chris Hutchings, Melchiot also worked with Steve Bruce and Roberto Martinez at the DW – a real mix of styles.
“We were struggling and Steve Bruce brought the character that Wigan needed at the time with the fighting spirit, the fitness levels. He got us working harder and with more fire,” Melchiot said of the former Birmingham and Latics boss.
“I have to say I had a really good relationship with Chris Hutchings as a coach and a person too; he understood the game but I think his philosophy was a couple of steps too far forward and Wigan weren’t quite ready for it.
“Martinez came after and he flipped it into a good mix of players who understood how to play but also how to work hard and I think then he used that and made it more creative into a way that was one of the best you will ever see Wigan play.”