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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 14, 2009

Wigan sign Rayo Vallecano centre-back Amaya

Wigan Athletic have signed centre-back Antonio Amaya on a three-year contract from Rayo Vallecano.

The deal, which will be completed once international clearance is secured, is one which Wigan manager Roberto Martinez is convinced will strengthen his team.

Martinez said of his fellow Spaniard: "Antonio is someone I have admired from a distance for a long time, and I am very happy we have convinced him to come to us.

"He is a really powerful lad, technically excellent, with good pace and he will fit in well to our system. I have no doubts about him adjusting to English football.

"Antonio is a quality player, with an excellent mix of experience and professionalism and he is enthusiastic about joining the club.

"He has been the captain of his club for three years, which shows you his leadership qualities. He will add great competition to our squad and I know that he is desperate to play for Wigan Athletic and is hungry to have success here."

Amaya, 26, added: "To play in England is a big dream for me, and I am honoured that Wigan have chosen me.

"I want to do everything I can to show Roberto Martinez and the people of Wigan they have made a good choice.

"I just need to be totally focused now on trying to earn a place in what is a very talented and competitive squad and try and make a good impression to my new team-mates, the manager and the supporters of my new club."

Amaya is not expected to be available for Saturday's season-opener at Aston Villa, new manager Martinez's first Premier League game.

Martinez signed for Wigan as a player in 1995 when, as a member of the 'Three Amigos', he was joined at a crumbling Springfield Park by countrymen Jesus Seba and Isidro Diaz.

The Latics were then playing in the bottom division but Martinez insists that the prospect of one day becoming a top-flight club was never just a wild fantasy.

"That's why we signed for Wigan," he said. "Dave Whelan (the owner) was a very infectious character.

"He told us the only reason he bought the club was to play in the Premier League and to build a new stadium and when Mr Whelan tells you something you immediately believe that he is going to achieve it."

It took Wigan a further 10 years and a switch to a brand new all-seater ground to reach the elite and by the time they completed their meteoric rise Martinez was playing for Swansea.

But managerial success with the Swans and a move back to Wigan as boss in June means the 36-year-old will finally lead the Latics into Barclays Premier League battle at Villa Park tomorrow.

Martinez added: "Many eyebrows were raised when we signed for Wigan in the old Second Division but the reason was we wanted to be part of the club and we could feel the success behind it. Now is a moment to be proud when you look where we are.

"It will be a nice feeling in terms of seeing that circle completed, but I don't think the circle will ever be finished until we can compete at Premier League level and that is the challenge.

"I don't think you can enjoy the circle because now the job really starts for Wigan Athletic to try and go to the next level."

Such has been the scale of Wigan's success story that the next level means a top-10 place in the Premier League.

Paul Jewell achieved that position in Wigan's first season in the top division and despite flirting with relegation in 2006, the Latics were re-energised by Steve Bruce and finished 11th last season before Bruce moved to Sunderland.

Following him will be no easy task and Martinez may need to call on all the reserves of goodwill he generated in his first spell in Lancashire to guide Wigan through a testing phase in their development.

Given a three-year contract by Whelan, the engaging Spaniard wants to achieve a top-seven place during that timescale.

But it may have to be a case of taking one step back to achieve two forward given the departures from the DW Stadium since January of Emile Heskey, Wilson Palacios, Antonio Valencia, Amr Zaki, Mido, Kevin Kilbane, Ryan Taylor, Henri Camara and most recently Lee Cattermole.

Martinez said: "It will be take time to get it right but on the other side it is also a huge challenge. I am full of energy, I am excited and I am looking forward to what we have got in front of us."

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