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Eden Hazard retires from international football after the World Cup debacle in Belgium

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Eden Hazard

yledText-sc-1jtxuc8-0 fWbzXg body-paragraph”>Belgian star Eden Hazard announced his retirement from international soccer on Wednesday, days after the team missed out on the World Cup in the group stage.

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The 31-year-old Real Madrid striker made the announcement on social media and said that “a page is being turned today.”

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“Thank you for your unparalleled support,” he posted on Instagram. “Thank you for all this happiness shared since 2008. I have decided to end my international career. The succession is ready. I will miss you.”

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The Belgium team tweeted: “All the best, captain.”

Playing as an attacking midfielder or winger, Hazard made his Belgium debut in 2008 as a teenager and amassed a total of 126 appearances with 33 goals. He was the standard bearer for Belgium’s vaunted “golden generation” which reached the semifinals at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The team is still ranked second in the world by FIFA, but many of its players are over 30 and they finished third in Group F behind Morocco and Croatia.

Hazard, who was the team’s captain, made a surprise admission during the tournament in Qatar, saying the team’s best chance to win the World Cup had come and gone.

The striker moved from French club Lille to Chelsea in 2012 and became one of the Premier League‘s biggest stars, winning the trophy twice. He sealed a big-money transfer to Real Madrid in 2019 but, hampered by injury, he has struggled to repeat the form he displayed in England.

Belgium has been plagued by rumors of infighting in Qatar and several of the country’s other stars, including Kevin De Bruyne and Thibaut Courtois, are likely to have played their last World Cup games. After his departure, the Belgium coach, Roberto Martínez, announced that he was leaving his position.

Luka Modric of Croatia vies for the ball with Jan Vertonghen of Belgium during their World Cup match at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium on Thursday, December 1, 2022. EPA

Updated: December 07, 2022, 11:19 am

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