Roger Espinoza has come a long way in a short period of time..
In the past year, the Honduran midfielder went from being an MLS standout to a top international performer with global recognition. His stellar performance in the Olympics - especially against a star-studded Brazil side that featured Neymar - had some hailing him as the best player of the tournament. It was that showcase that led to English Premier League side Wigan signing Espinoza on a two-and-half-year deal when his MLS current expires at the end of the year.
Espinoza spoke with Goal.com about the latest chapter of his life as a Latics player and his appreciation of MLS.
Goal.com: How have you been preparing for your move to Wigan in January?
Espinoza: The idea is to be in England in two weeks, then we will make the move official once my MLS contract expires on Dec. 31. So, I won't be able to work with the team this year but at least I will have time to settle myself in the area and get ready for when I can work with the team.
Are you happy with the contract that you got from Wigan?
Yeah, my contract is for two-and-a-half years with an option. I'm glad for the stability of the contract and having that option in it also helps. I'm very grateful about that.
Were there any other teams interested in signing you?
At this stage, I'm signed with Wigan and I'm happy with the move so I won't name names. However, my agent told me that teams in England, Spain, Portugal were also interested.
Have you sorted out your work permit?
We are expecting FA to review my status and grant me a work permit due to my time with the national team. We hope that they take into consideration some games that I did not play because of injuries and sanctions.
If not, my agent and I have already spoken with head coach [Roberto] Martínez and he told me that I can easily win any appeal because I've played in the World Cup, Gold Cup, Olympics and can speak English.
Speaking about Roberto, what is your relationship with him like?
Roberto made it clear that he wanted me to be a part of his Wigan team. He told me that he had been following my progress since 2010 and wanted me to join the Lactics as soon as possible. He told me that he expects me to be a key role player for the team and I will work hard to prove him right in signing me.
What do take from your time at MLS?
MLS formed me as a player and person. Playing here allowed me to have a chance to play with the national team. So I'm thankful for all the opportunities that I had with MLS.
What was your career highlight from playing in MLS?
My last year with Sporting KC stood out because we won the U.S. Cup. Our season didn't end the way we expected by exiting the playoffs early but we worked hard and winning the U.S. Open Cup was a very special moment for us.
Are you surprised that there aren't more Hondurans in MLS?
I don't know why more Hondurans did not play in MLS before.
I think there were probably problems between MLS and the clubs in Honduras or they did not agree on financial terms. Still, the Hondurans in MLS are helping the league grow with more diverse styles. It's what the league saw with Colombians. They came, a lot stayed and are influential in MLS. I am sure this is going to happen with Hondurans, too.
Having played in MLS, what would you like to see change or improve?
I'm not alone in thinking this but I think many players would like to see better movement in regards to free agency. Right now, it's difficult for players to sign with the teams that they want to especially if they are American players who have played in the league.
I also think the league needs to make salaries better for newcomers if you want young players to be interested in playing in MLS. If you fix that, the league will continue to get better. We are already seeing that the league is getting a better style of play and respect.
Espinoza's interview with Rojas was translated from Spanish.
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