Isn’t it about time we built a statue of the ‘Three Amigos’? If Wigan survive in the Premier League it will be remarkable achievement and a worthy tribute would be to create a statue at the DW Stadium of Roberto Martinez and his two trailblazing Spanish colleagues, Isidro Diaz and Jesus Seba.
Like Paul Jewell, when we survived on the last day of the season against Sheffield United in 2007, Roberto will be hailed as a hero by the Wigan fans, but we should not forget his two Spanish colleagues who deserve to be recognised for their role in changing the perception of Wigan Athletic.
We should never underestimate the significant role the ‘Three Amigos’ played in transforming the image of Latics from a lower league club to one with Premier league potential.
When Dave Whelan brought the players over from Spain during the summer of 1995 latics were struggling in the lower half of the third division with crowds of less than 2,000. The introduction of the new Spanish players was a bold move and created much media interest in the club.
When introduced to the Wigan faithful the ‘Three Amigos’ were a massive hit, displaying footballing skills and flair that had rarely been seen at Springfield Park. Seba’s ability to bend free-kicks, ‘Izzy’ Diaz’s runs down the wing, and “Bob” Martinez’s matador-style goal celebrations changed the outlook of the club.
At the end of the first season Martinez was leading scorer with 13 goals, and he was included in the Third Division Team of the Year. The team just missed out on a play-off place, losing the last game of the season at home to Northampton.
The following season Latics progress continued under manager John Deehan and by the end of the 1996/1997 season they were champions of the Third Division, with Martinez and Diaz both in the team that clinched the championship in the final game of the season. The road to the Premier League then commenced in earnest.
Roberto went on to play 180 games with a further 47 appearances from the bench, scoring 23 goals. Isidro played 66 games with 21 sub appearances, scoring 18 times. Jesus played 11 games with 16 substitute appearances, scoring 3 times.
The Spanish trio had transformed matters on the pitch and changed the public perception of the club. As manager Martinez has transformed the playing style, youth policy and professionalism of the club. If we stay up this season, a statue of the ‘Three Amigos’, Roberto, Isidro and Jesus would be a fitting tribute to their influence and the continued success story that is Wigan Athletic.