Soccer

Eden Hazard retires from Belgium international team after World Cup exit: ‘The next generation is ready’

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Belgium and Real Madrid’s Eden Hazard has retired from international soccer after the Red Devils’ disastrous FIFA 2022 World Cup ended in group stage elimination.

Hazard joins Roberto Martinez in leaving the Belgian setup after they contrived to fall in the group stage in Qatar despite winning their opening match vs. Canada.

Defeat to Morocco and a draw with Croatia put paid to Belgium’s hopes of a last shot at glory with a group widely considered as a golden generation which Hazard was the figurehead for.

Now 31, he will not be part of his nation’s attempts to qualify for the 2024 Euros nor the 2026 World Cup and faces a fight to save his career at Santiago Bernabeu given his decline since 2018.Finishing third in Russia was undoubtedly the highlight of his 14-year tenure with the Belgian selection and the former Chelsea and Lille OSC man was emotional about calling time on his call-ups.

“Today I turn a page,” wrote Hazard via Instagram. “Thanks for your love. Thank you for your unparalleled support. Thank you for all the joyful moments we have shared since 2008. Today I decided to put an end to my career as an international. The next generation is ready. I’m going to miss you so much.”

Reports via Belgian outlet Het Laatste Nieuws suggested that this was a possibility in the wake of their elimination against Croatia and his announcement follows less than one week after that.

Hazard debuted for Belgium at 17 and had been a key figure up until this World Cup when he was eventually relegated to an impact substitute role.

Captain of his country 56 times in his career, Hazard leaves with 33 goals and 36 assists from 126 appearances.

“Legendary, thanks for everything bro,’ wrote Michy Batshuayi while Real Madrid and Brazil’s Vinicius Junior called Hazard a “legend.”

Belgium are expected to fill Martinez’s head coach and technical director roles separately with legendary Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal touted as a candidate while a full-time captain will also be required.  



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