Axel Witsel quits international soccer, ends 15-year career with Belgium

Updated May. 12, 2023 2:46 p.m. ET

BRUSSELS (AP) — Veteran midfielder Axel Witsel is the latest member of Belgium's so-called Golden Generation to end his international career.

The 34-year-old Witsel made 130 appearances in a 15-year career with Belgium, scoring 12 goals. He said on Friday he wants to dedicate more time to his family and focus on his career with Spanish club Atletico Madrid.

“Good luck to the new generation who I am sure will make us live again incredible moments,” Witsel said on social media.

In March, new Belgium coach Domenico Tedesco dropped Witsel in his first squad since being appointed with a mission to rebuild. Tedesco insisted at the time that the door remained open for Witsel to return.


Tedesco replaced Roberto Martinez, who led Belgium to a third-place finish at the 2018 World Cup and was in charge for six years. Martinez stepped down after the Red Devils failed to progress to the knockout stage last year in Qatar.

Belgium was ranked No. 1 by FIFA for four years during Martinez’s tenure but never won a major tournament. Several other members from that successful era — Eden Hazard, Toby Alderweireld and Simon Mignolet — have also retired from international soccer since the World Cup.


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