Red Devils: Axel Witsel calls time on his international career


After 15 years in the shirt of the Red Devils, the defensive midfielder with 130 caps is retiring from the national squad.

Axel Witsel’s first appearance as a Red Devil was on 26 March 2008 for a match against Morocco. He also scored his first goal that night. The Liège native only scored a total of 12 times for the Belgian squad. But it wasn’t his offensive side that made him an invaluable starter for fifteen years under Marc Wilmots and Roberto Martinez.

Axel Witsel appeared to be a key player for the balance of the national squad indeed. His work in the shadows rarely put him in the spotlight as he relayed between the defence and stars in the offence such as Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku. But if they were able to shine so brightly, wasn’t is most often thanks to him?

“After careful consideration, it is with great emotion that I’ve taken the decision to retire from international football. It has been a great pride to have represented my country for the last 15 years. Now it is important for me to dedicate more time to my family and to focus on my club,” the player who has shown great soberness off the pitch has just announced.

With 130 caps for the Red Devils, Axel Witsel has played in the 2014, 2018 and 2022 World Cups and the 2016 and 2020 European cups, taking part in Belgium’s best-ever World Cup finish, in third place in Russia in 2018.