On Tuesday night, Jan Vertonghen became the all-time leader in national team caps for Belgium, making his 97th appearance in the 4-0 win over Cyprus and breaking Jan Ceulemans’ 26-year-old record. Vertonghen even got to wear the captain’s armband, after giving in to Eden Hazard’s insisting to do so. The Chelsea man already wanted the Tottenham defender to wear the armband in the previous, record-equalling appearance, but Vertonghen refused then.
“Yes, it's true. He came to me to tell me to take the captain's armband [vs. Bosnia]. I thought that was really nice of him, but I refused. I'm not a guy who wants to push himself into the spotlight or stand out from the crowd.
"I heard it said that I wanted to play with the No. 97 shirt against Cyprus to mark the occasion, but that's not true. I'm a normal guy who wants to play games, whether it be the first, the 95th or the 97th of my international career.
"But to come back to Eden, that shows his great generosity that he had that idea, and I thank him for it."
-Jan Vertonghen; source: Evening Standard
But who can say no to Eden? Vertonghen finally relented and gave in to his national team captain for his record-breaking day.
Belgium’s most capped player, Jan Vertonghen, was captain against Cyprus: “Eden kept on insisting. He just gave it to me.” #cfc #thfc pic.twitter.com/19mhI2vHIm— Kristof Terreur (@HLNinEngeland) October 11, 2017
“I did not ask for it, he gave it to me, and this time he really insisted I accept it."
-Jan Vertonghen; source: DH via Google Translate
Congrats to him and to Belgium for a near-perfect 2018 World Cup qualification campaign. They should be one of the favorites to win it all in the summer.