Just a few days after his team was eliminated from the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Belgium captain Eden Hazard announced his retirement from international football.
After playing Croatia for a 0-0 draw on December 1, the Belgian Red Devils were eliminated from the tournament. In the first two games of the group stage, Hazard was in charge of his team.
However, when the Real Madrid winger came off the bench to face the 2018 FIFA World Cup finalists, he was only given three minutes to play. At the age of 31, Hazard made the decision to retire from international football.
In French, English, and Dutch, he made a statement on his official Instagram account. He said:
“Today, a page turns… I am grateful for your love. I am indebted to you for your unwavering support. I am grateful for the happiness we have shared since 2008. The next step is ready. I will miss you…#onestensemble“
Hazard has retired from international football after making 126 senior appearances and scoring 33 goals. Over the course of the past decade or so, the ex-Chelsea winger has served as the model for Belgium’s “golden generation” of underachievers.
He went to the World Cups in 2014, 2018, and 2022 on behalf of his team. During that time, their best performance was a third-place finish in Russia.
His performance at the 2016 UEFA European Championship may have been his best in a major tournament. In five games, he scored once and provided four assists, but Wales defeated Belgium in the quarterfinals.
Five years later, at the 2020 UEFA European Championship, they faced a similar fate. They were eliminated this time by Italy, the eventual champions.
He may also leave Real Madrid in the future. Hazard’s contract at Santiago Bernabeu runs out in the summer of 2024, and this season, he has only played 98 minutes of La Liga football.
Eden Hazard retires as a legend for Belgium
He has, however, reiterated his desire to remain with the team and impress manager Carlo Ancelotti.
Even though the Belgian Red Devils did not win a major trophy, Eden Hazard is arguably one of Belgium’s greatest players and will leave the team as a legend.
He became the ninth-youngest player to represent Belgium at the age of 17 years, 10 months, and 12 days. In November 2008, he made his debut in a 1-1 friendly match against Luxembourg.
With 126 senior games played, he is also their fourth-highest international appearance maker. If he had played for a few more years, Jan Vertonghen, who is 35 years old, could have surpassed Hazard’s total of 145 caps.
He is also the country’s second-highest goal scorer in history, behind only Romelu Lukaku, with 33 goals.