Since we started the day discussing Radja Nainggolan, we might as well end it that way too. While Federico Fazio. Alisson and Aleksandar Kolarov should or will all experience the pride and joy that comes with representing your nation at the World Cup (I did it once, it was awesome), the same cannot be said for our beloved Nainggolan, who was conspicuously missing from Roberto Martinez’s preliminary roster for next month’s FIFA World Cup.
BREAKING: Radja Nainggolan has been left out of the Belgium squad for the World Cup pic.twitter.com/dodfg3eioQ— B/R Football (@brfootball) May 21, 2018
At this point, I’m not even sure that snub is strong enough a term. Nainggolan may not be as talented or as famous as some of his countryman (think Hazard, De Bruyne), but surely he’s a better bet and more prepared than someone like Axel Witsel whose been toiling away in China, or Marouane Fellaini who is, well, Marouane Fellaini, right?
Well, apparently not. For some unknown reason, Martinez didn’t deem Nainggolan fit for service. One would think that in a tournament as compressed as the World Cup, where overarching strategies and tactics can sometimes fall flat, you’d want a player as versatile as Nainggolan in midfield, but, again, apparently not.
There's no way Radja Nainggolan was left out of the Belgium squad for tactical reasons. The coach doesn't like his personality or what he brings off the pitch and clearly he doesn't play FIFA. Radja is a beast!— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) May 21, 2018
See! Even the third host of the Daily Show realizes that Nainggolan was robbed! What kind of world is this?
Nainggolan was quick to respond to this disappointment
Met veel pijn in het hart maak ik een einde aan men internationale carriere... ik heb er altijd alles aangedaan om er bij te zijn en belgie te vertegenwoordigen ... spijtig genoeg is ECHT zijn niet goed voor SOMMIGE... En vanaf vandaag zal ik de eerste supporter zijn.... Purtroppo molto a malincuore termina la mia carriera internazionale... ho sempre fatto di tutto per poter rappresentare la mia nazione Essere se stessi a volte puó dare fastidio... Da oggi saró il primo tifoso... Very reluctantly my international career comes to an end...I’ve always done everthing I could to represent my country Being yourself can be bothering ...From this day on I will be the first fan...
Rather than lashing out, like so many of us would, Nainggolan took the high road, a gesture that didn’t go unnoticed in his homeland, as there is currently an online petition circulating trying to get Martinez to somehow rectify this error.
Even if you remove your Roma glasses, Martinez’s rationale (whatever it might be) for excluding Nainggolan defies expectations, but for whatever reason he’s simply never been a fan of Nainggolan.
Kudos for Radja for being an adult about this, lord knows he has every reason to lash out. What more would he have to do to prove himself?
Hey, here’s an idea, maybe Italy can naturalize him before the World Cup star....oh, wait.