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Belgium’s Eden Hazard quits internationals after World Cup exit

BELGIUM captain Eden Hazard — SVETLANA BEKETOVA

AL RAYYAN, Qatar — Belgium captain Eden Hazard announced his retirement from international football aged 31 Wednesday after his second-ranked team’s World Cup campaign ended in a disappointing group stage exit.

Mr. Hazard, the anchor of Belgium’s “golden generation,” played in all three games but did not score as Belgium beat Canada, lost to Morocco and had to settle for a goalless draw with Croatia to finish third in Group F.

The forward made his senior debut in 2008 and scored 33 times in 126 appearances. He guided Belgium to their best World Cup finish at the 2018 tournament in Russia, when they came third.

“I have decided to put an end to my international career. The succession is ready,” Mr. Hazard wrote on Instagram. “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 will miss you.”

Belgium lost to eventual champions France four years ago and beat England in the third-placed playoff but they were unable to find that spark in Qatar and bowed out with a whimper.

Hazard joined Belgium coach Roberto Martinez in stepping away from the national team after a dismal campaign in which they scored only one goal in three games, and made more headlines for reported off-field squabbles than their football.

Mr. Hazard, who won the Premier League and Europa League twice among other major honors in seven seasons at Chelsea, has struggled since his move to Real Madrid in 2019. He has won the Champions League and two LaLiga titles but scored only seven times in all competitions during his time in the Spanish capital. — Reuters

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