Belgian midfielder, Axel Witsel has announced his retirement from international football after playing for the national team for 15 years.

Axel Witsel’s resignation from the national team came weeks after the team’s former talisman Eden Hazard, Toby Alderweireld and backup goalie Simon Mignolet decided to hang their international boots after an abysmal performance at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Witsel who is the second-capped Belgium international behind the country’s legend Jan Vertonghen, made his last appearance for the country on December 1, 2022, during a World Cup group game against Croatia which ended in a draw.

Belgium’s new manager, Domenico Tedesco, did not feature the 34-year-old defensive midfielder against Sweden in the group’s Euro 2024 qualifying match on March 24 which ended in a 3-0 victory for Belgium.

“After careful consideration, it is with great emotion that I have decided to retire from international football,” Axel Witsel who is currently contracted to Atletico Madrid announced on Twitter on Friday as he wished “good luck to the new generation”.

“It is important for me to spend more time with my family and focus on my club”.

In March 2008, Witsel, a French-speaking Belgian who started his professional career at Standard Liege, netted his first goal for his country. He competed in the Euros in 2016 and 2020 in addition to the World Cups in 2014, 2018, and 2022. He was a part of the squad that earned Belgium their highest World Cup performance by finishing third in Russia in 2018.

He moved from Borussia Dortmund to Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2022.

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