Belgium captain Eden Hazard has retired from international football following his country’s disastrous group-stage exit at the World Cup in Qatar.
The 31-year-old forward played in all three Group F games but did not score as Belgium beat Canada, lost to Morocco and played out a goalless draw with Croatia to finish third.
Days after Belgium’s group stage elimination, the Real Madrid forward has called time on international duty after 14 years to focus on kickstarting his dwindling career at the Spanish capital.
“A page turns today… Thank you for your love,” The former Chelsea man wrote on his Instagram. “Thank you for your unparalleled support. 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.”
Several of his international and club teammates, including Thibaut Courtois and Brazilian forward Vinicius Junior, paid tribute to Hazard in the comments.
Hazard made his international debut in 2008, coming on as a 17-year-old sensation against Luxembourg, and has since scored 33 goals and provided 36 assists in 126 appearances for the Red Devils.
He helped Belgium reach the 2018 World Cup semi-finals, where they lost to the eventual champions France and beat England in the third-placed playoff. He wore the captain’s armband 56 times for his country.
Hazard’s retirement marks the beginning of the end for Belgium’s so-called ‘Golden Generation’, who have faltered in their last attempt at glory on the international stage once again, despite heading to Qatar as the second-highest nation in the latest FIFA World Rankings.
Belgium manager Roberto Martinez had also stepped down from his managerial position following their elimination.
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