Belgian player, Witsel, leaves international football

Belgian player, Witsel, leaves international football

Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel announced his retirement from international soccer on Friday.

“After careful consideration, it is with great emotion that I have made the decision to retire from international football,” the 34-year-old Atlético Madrid player announced on social media.

Witsel follows fellow 30-somethings Eden Hazard, Toby Alderweireld and number two goalkeeper Simon Mignolet in the decision to hang up the national jersey.

Only Jan Vertonghen, with 147 caps, has played more caps for Belgium than Witsel.

In March, the defensive midfielder was dropped by new coach Domenico Tedesco from the squad to face Sweden in the first game of Euro 2024 qualifying.

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Tedesco showed his intention to rejuvenate the squad by discarding ten of the 26 players from the squad that was eliminated in the group stage of the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

On Friday, on Twitter, Witsel wished “good luck to the new generation”, while thanking all those who have allowed him to “bloom” in the national team.

“It’s important for me to spend more time with my family and focus on my club,” he said.

Witsel, a French-speaking Belgian, who began his professional career at Standard Liège, made his scoring debut for Belgium in March 2008. He played in the 2014, 2018 and 2022 World Cups and the 2016 and 2020 Euro Cup. He was part of the team that he had Belgium’s best result at the World Cup with third place in Russia in 2018.

He joined Atlético Madrid in the summer of 2022 from Borussia Dortmund.

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