Eden Hazard accepts Belgium must lift a major trophy if they are to justify the ‘Golden Generation’ label they have carried for almost a decade.
Belgium boast a squad of players that represent some of Europe’s biggest clubs, including the likes of Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne and Thibaut Courtois.
The Red Devils have ended five of the past seven years at the top of the FIFA rankings, yet they have repeatedly struggled to make an impact at tournaments.
They were eliminated at the quarter-final stage of the past two European Championships and also exited at that point in the 2014 World Cup.
Belgium did go one better by reaching the semi-finals of Russia 2018, where they were beaten by France, and Hazard says the aim in the Qatar World Cup is to go all the way.
“There’s always talk of the ‘Golden Generation’ but there’s some truth to it,” Hazard, who has struggled for playing time at Real Madrid this season, told FIFA’s official website.
“We’ve spent almost 10 years together. Now we’ve got young players starting to come through.
“We’ve got an incredible generation of players, but we still haven’t won anything. If we really want to earn that ‘Golden Generation’ nickname, that’s the one thing we need to do.
“Our collective experience has definitely helped us in previous tournaments, so I hope that it will continue in the same vein for some time yet.”
— Belgian Red Devils (@BelRedDevils) October 25, 2022
Hazard has played 122 times for Belgium, placing him behind only Toby Alderweireld (123), Axel Witsel (126) and Jan Vertonghen (141) as his country’s most capped player.
The Madrid forward scored three goals in six matches for Belgium in the most recent World Cup and is hoping to better that tally in Qatar.
“I have to set the bar high,” said Hazard, who also played five times for his country in the 2014 instalment in Brazil. “I’m going to try to do better than in 2018.
“It’ll be tough because that was already pretty good. I’m fortunate to be the captain of a great team and a big footballing nation. We owe it to ourselves to have high expectations.”