DOHA: Belgium star Eden Hazard announced his retirement from international football on Wednesday, days after the team crashed out of the World Cup in the group stage.
The Real Madrid forward, 31, made the announcement on social media, saying “a page turns today”.
“Thank you for your unparalleled support,” he posted on Instagram. “Thank you for all this happiness shared since 2008. I have decided to put an end to my international career. The succession is ready. I will miss you.”
The Belgium team tweeted: “All the best, captain.”
Hazard, who played as an attacking midfielder or winger, made his Belgium debut in 2008 as a teenager and collected a total of 126 caps, scoring 33 goals.
He was the standard-bearer of Belgium’s “golden generation”, which reached the semi-finals at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The team are still ranked second in the world by FIFA but many of their players are in their 30s and they finished third in Group ‘F’ behind Morocco and Croatia.
Hazard made a surprise admission during the tournament in Qatar, saying the team’s best chance to win the World Cup had come and gone.
Belgium were stalked by rumours of in-fighting in Qatar and a number of the country’s other stars including Kevin De Bruyne and Thibaut Courtois have likely played their final World Cup matches.
In the aftermath of their exit, Belgium coach Roberto Martinez announced he was leaving his job.
Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2022