Sunday, March 26, 2023

Toby Alderweireld announces retirement from international football with Belgium

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Former Tottenham Hotspur and Atletico Madrid centre-back Toby Alderweireld is retiring from the Belgian national team after a 13-year international career.

Toby Alderweireld has announced his retirement from international football with Belgium following a 13-year playing career with The Red Devils.

The 34-year-old featured 127 times for his national side in a 13-year spell between 2009 and 2022, making the former Tottenham Hotspur man Belgium’s third-highest all-time appearance-maker behind Jan Vertonghen and Axel Witsel.

Alderweireld has formed part of Belgium’s Golden Generation in recent times, with the defender appearing in five straight tournaments for The Red Devils, including three World Cups and two European Championships.

Following a group-stage exit in last year’s World Cup in Qatar, Alderweireld has joined a host of players from that Roberto Martinez squad to confirm their retirements from the international stage.

Despite the disappointment of an early departure from proceedings in the Middle East, the centre-back has focused on the positive memories concerning his lengthy service for the Belgian national team in a statement released on their official website.

“As a little boy I dreamed of playing for the National team. I am very grateful and proud that this dream has become a reality,” read the statement.

“I can look back, 14 years later, on 127 international matches, three World Cups, two European Championships and countless beautiful memories. With pain in my heart I announce that I will retire from the Belgian Red Devils with immediate effect. I have given myself completely, physically and mentally, since my international debut in 2009.

“It is now time to pay more attention to my fantastic family and to focus on my role at Royal Antwerp FC. A very difficult decision, but the right one for me at the moment. I want to thank all my teammates and the staff of the Belgian Red Devils for the unforgettable moments we shared together. Without them none of this would have been possible.

“Finally, I would like to address the Belgian fans: wherever we went, you were there. Thanks for your support. I will never forget you.”

Belgium will begin life without Alderweireld later this month when they face Sweden to start their Euro 2024 qualification campaign in Group F, which also includes Azerbaijan and Austria.

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