End of an era: record international Jan Vertonghen retires as Red Devil after the European Championship

End of an era: record international Jan Vertonghen retires as Red Devil after the European Championship
End of an era: record international Jan Vertonghen retires as Red Devil after the European Championship

The decision has not yet been made official because the Anderlecht defender wants to concentrate on the end of the season at his club, which is still fighting for the national title. But in private, Jan Vertonghen has already made it clear that he will end his international career after the European Championship. Vertonghen currently has 154 international matches.

The decision should not be surprising given his age and the fact that the next World Cup will not take place until 2026. Vertonghen will then be 39 years old. Members of his generation such as Thomas Vermaelen (38), Vincent Kompany (38), Marouane Fellaini (37) and Mousa Dembélé (36) have already retired from football. Axel Witsel (35) and Toby Alderweireld (35) are still active, but previously indicated that they no longer wanted to be a Red Devil.

“I will decide my future in March or April,” Vertonghen said in October last year. The decision about the Red Devils has already been made, but has not yet been made public. It is not clear whether Vertonghen will do that soon now that he is fully involved in the title battle with Anderlecht.

Since 2007

Vertonghen started his career as a Red Devil on June 2, 2007 under then national coach René Vandereycken with a 1–2 defeat against Portugal. Vertonghen, who had just turned 20, was played as a defensive midfielder in those first international matches, a position he also held at that time at RKC, to which he had been loaned by Ajax. Vertonghen was still largely unknown to the Belgian public at the time, because at the age of sixteen he left Germinal Beerschot for Ajax without ever having played a single minute in our national competition.

A young Vertonghen duels with the Portuguese Helder Postiga during his very first international match. — © BELGA

That match against Portugal marked the start of an impressive career with the Red Devils in which he would hardly miss a match and on June 2, 2018, eleven years after his debut, he was the first Red Devil ever to reach the milestone of one hundred international matches.

Ten goals

In that seventeen-year career as a Red Devil, Vertonghen scored ten times. The first time in March 2011, the opening goal in a 4–1 win against Azerbaijan. The last time until now, again the opening goal, in a 5–0 win against Estonia last year in September. His most memorable goals, however, are the 1-2 tying goal against Japan at the bronze World Cup of 2018. Four years earlier at the World Cup in Brazil, Vertonghen also scored the 1-0 against South Korea in the first round.

In principle, Vertonghen will say goodbye to the Belgian football crowd on June 8 in the King Baudouin Stadium in a friendly match against Luxembourg. The ex-player of Tielrode, Germinal Beerschot, Ajax, RKC, Tottenham, Benfica and now Anderlecht will then play the European Championship as a final farewell to the Red Devils. It is not yet clear how his career with the Purple & White will continue.

The article is in Dutch

Tags: era record international Jan Vertonghen retires Red Devil European Championship


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