(Football news) Belgium’s golden boy and captain Eden Hazard announced his retirement from international football at the age of 31 on Wednesday after his team’s World Cup campaign ended in a disappointing group stage exit. Hazard was always the anchor of Belgium’s “golden generation” and subsequently played in all three games but did not score as Belgium beat Canada in the opening match but lost to Morocco and had to settle for a goalless draw with Croatia to finish third in Group F.
The former Chelsea forward made his senior debut in 2008 and has scored 33 times in 126 appearances for his nation. He guided Belgium to their best World Cup finish in 2018 t in Russia, when they finished third which was their highest ever finish at the World Cup finals. Belgium eventually lost to the champions France four years ago and beat England in the third-placed playoff but they were unable to find that same spark in Qatar. Hazard joined Belgium coach Roberto Martinez in stepping down from the national team after a very disappointing campaign in which they scored only one goal in three games, and the team made more headlines for reported off-field squabbles than their football.
Hazard won the Premier League and Europa League among other major honours in seven seasons at Chelsea but has struggled since his move to Real Madrid in 2019. With Real Madrid he has won the Champions League and two LaLiga titles but has scored only seven times in all competitions during his time in the Spanish capital. Hazard made a surprise comment during the tournament in Qatar, saying the team’s best chance to win the World Cup had come and gone. The forward moved from Lille to Chelsea in 2012 and became one of the best players in the Premier League as he sealed a big-money move to Real Madrid in 2019 but since then he has been hampered with injury as he has struggled to repeat the form he showed in England.
Belgium had rumours of fighting in Qatar and a number of the country’s other stars including Kevin De Bruyne and Thibaut Courtois have also likely played their final World Cup matches. In the aftermath of their exit, Belgium coach Roberto Martinez announced that he was leaving his job. In short the so-called golden generation for Belgium has come to an end as the Belgium FA have to bring in younger players in the team to refresh the playing system.
“I have decided to put an end to my international career. The succession is ready,” Hazard wrote on Instagram. “A page turns today… Thank you for your love. Thank you for your unparalleled support. Thank you for all this happiness shared since 2008… I will miss you.”
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