Nainggolan condems Belguim boss Martinez: "He wanted a reason not to pick me"

Posted Friday, June 01, 2018 by

Nainggolan condems Belguim boss Martinez:

Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan has hit back at Belgium coach Roberto Martinez for his claims he was left out of their World Cup squad for tactical reasons.

Nainggolan did not make Belgium's 28-man provisional squad for the upcoming World Cup and subsequently retired, claiming he would focus on supporting the team.

Martinez then announced the midfielder had been left out purely for tactical reasons, saying the decision of excluding a "top player" was difficult.

But now, the 30-year-old has hit out, claiming his omission was purely personal – with disagreements over his lifestyle key.

I've played 300 matches in Serie A - it's the most tactical competition in the world," he told Belgian TV channel Vier (via ESPN).

"After the training game against Spain, I was suddenly left out of the team. Was it because I arrived late? I don't want to mention any names, but that's happened with other players and they're still there.

"That some people criticise me for smoking I can understand. They feel that I should be a role model for youngsters.

"But if that's what I wanted to be, I would have become a primary school teacher or an educator. But I'm a footballer and I want to be judged based on my performances on the pitch.

"In Rome, he explained that he hadn't yet made his decision - but it was clear that he was looking for a reason not to pick me." he said.

Belgium face Portugal on Saturday in their first of three warm up against ahead of the World Cup in Russia.

Nainggolan's season with Roma

Nainggolan was a big part of the Roma side which reached the Champions League final and finished third in Serie A last season.

The Belgian played 42 times in all competitions, scoring six and assisting 11 including four goals and nine assists in Serie A.

Nainggolan also completed 84.2% of his passes in Serie A last season, averaging 1.7 tackles per 90 minutes.



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