Belgium’s Hazard retires from international football after World Cup exit

Brussels, Dec 7 (EFE).- Real Madrid player Eden Hazard announced his retirement from international football on Wednesday, after Belgium crashed out of the group stage at the World Cup in Qatar.

“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 have decided to put an end to my international career,” the forward wrote on his Instagram account.

“The succession is ready. I will miss you,” he added.

Hazard, who turns 32 in January, made his first appearance for Belgium in November 2008, and has since played 126 times for the Red Devils.

Following Hazard’s announcement, the Belgian Football Association posted a thank you message reading “All the best, Captain,” along with a video dating back to 2018 featuring Hazard celebrating with thousands of fans in Brussels after Belgium finished third in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, the national team’s best achievement to date.

Hazard’s international retirement came after Belgium’s star-studded but ageing side disappointed in Qatar, beating Canada 1-0, losing to Morocco 0-2, and playing out a goalless draw against Croatia to collect only four points that were not enough to take them to the round of 16.

Hazard, who scored 33 goals during his international career, is the fourth most-capped player in Belgium’s history.

Considered one of the best players of his generation, Hazard was known for his dribbling and passing abilities as well as his extraordinary vision, skills that helped him to steadily climb the ladder of professional football.

Hazard started his professional career in Ligue 1 side LOSC Lille in 2007, before he left in 2012 to spend seven seasons with Chelsea, where he won the Premier League and Europa League twice, as well as the FA Cup and League Cup.

Since joining Real Madrid in 2019, which the Belgian admitted was a life-long dream of his, Hazard’s influence on the pitch has waned after a succession of injures, although he has added a Champions League title and two La Liga trophies to his haul, as well as two Super Cup winners’ medals.

Hazard’s farewell comes shortly after Spanish head coach Roberto Martinez left his post at the helm of Belgium’s national team after six years, a move seen by many as an end to Belgium’s so-called golden generation, which included supremely talented players such as Kevin De Bruyne, Hazard, Thibaut Courtois, Romelu Lukaku, Yannick Carrasco, Dries Mertes and Thomas Vermaelen, among others.


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