Nainggolan retires from Belgium duty after World Cup snub

The Roma midfielder was a surprise omission from Roberto Martinez’s roster for the tournament in Russia this summer

Radja Nainggolan has announced his retirement from international football afterthe Roma midfielder was left out of Belgium’s provisional World Cup squad .

Nainggolan was the headline omission when Roberto Martinez named his provisional 28-man party for Russia 2018, with the former Everton boss explaining his decision was made purely on tactical grounds.

It is the second time in the space of a year that the 30-year-old has called time on representing his country, having done so after being overlooked for last September’s World Cup qualifiers against Gibraltar and Greece.

He made an abrupt u-turn when named in the squad for November friendlies with Mexico and Japan but Nainggolan has now opted to rule himself out of future selection once again.

“Very reluctantly my international career comes to an end,” he wrote in an Instagram post.

“I’ve always done everthing [sic] I could to represent my country.

“Being yourself can be bothering. From this day on I will be the first fan.”

At a news conference earlier on Monday, Martinez revealed he held a “very good conversation” with Nainggolan when breaking the news to the player in Rome as he was persistently grilled over the decision to omit a popular player for the Red Devils.

“First and foremost, we all know Radja is a top player, there is no question about that,” Martinez said.

“It is a tactical reason. In the last two years, the team has worked in an offensive way, in a very specific manner.

“In the case of Radja, we all know he has a very important role at club level and I don’t think we can give him that in the national team.

“I travelled to see him yesterday in Rome and we had a very good conversation. The decision is not an easy one, I understand how popular the player is, but we have to create the team to try to become a winning team.

“It is purely a tactical decision.”

Nainggolan appeared at the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016 for Belgium on his way to 30 caps and six goals at international level.


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