Belgium midfielder Marouane Fellaini has revealed via a statement posted on his Twitter account on Thursday evening that he is retiring from international football after 12 years and 87 caps for the national team. The former Manchester star, who scored 18 goals for the national team, decided call time on his career with the national team in order to allow a younger generation of Belgian players to pass through.
Fellaini was part of a golden generation of football stars playing for Belgium, and he delivered in important moments this past summer during the FIFA World Cup in Russia, helping his country to a third-place finish with victory over England – the best finish for the Red Devils in the nation’s history. He said: “After twelve years of representing Belgium at the highest level, I have decided to retire from senior international football. It has not been an easy decision for me and not one I take lightly however I feel that the time is right for me to step down and allow the next generation of Belgian players to continue this very successful period in Belgian football history.”
The 31-year-old, who left Manchester United for the Chinese Super League club Shandong Luneng in January, added: “It has been an honour to represent my country 87 times and to be a part of two World Cups and a European Championship campaign for Belgium. I have many memories with the Red Devils from my debut in 2007 to last year’s World Cup in Russia and I am very proud Belgium is currently No 1 in FIFA’s world rankings.”
Fellaini went on to thank his teammates as well as fans of the Belgian Red Devils: “I want to thank all those who have been part of my international career especially my team mates, many of whom will be friends for life and all the coaches I have worked with. I would like to also thank the Belgian fans who have travelled the world to support us. I wish the manager and the squad every success for the upcoming European qualifiers. Thank you Belgium.”
He was eligible to play for either Belgium or Morocco but chose to represent Belgium, from youth level upwards. His senior team debut was made in February 2007, and his first goal for the senior team came in a 2–1 defeat against Portugal a UEFA Euro 2008 qualification match. At the 2018 World Cup, Fellaini scored the equalising goal after Japan had gone 2–0 up in a round of 16 match that saw Belgium win 3–2 eventually to reach the quarter-final.