Roberto Martinez said his offensive strategy since he took over following the team's Euro 2016 disappointment no longer offered a role to Radja Nainggolan
Radja Nainggolan ended his international career on Monday after Belgium coach Roberto Martinez left the AS Roma midfielder out of his squad for next month's World Cup in Russia.
Despite past clashes over discipline, Martinez insisted he took what he knew was an unpopular decision for the good of the team.
"Very reluctantly my international career comes to an end," the 29-year-old Nainggolan wrote in English on Instagram an hour after Martinez made public a decision which he had broken to the player in person the night before in Rome.
Martinez said his offensive strategy since he took over following the team's Euro 2016 disappointment no longer offered a role to Nainggolan, despite his huge part in Roma's charge to the Champions League semi-finals this year.
The player himself, who also announced plans to retire last year after Martinez left him out, made clear he saw a clash of personality as an issue.
"I’ve always done everything I could to represent my country. Being yourself can be bothering" he said.
In his native Dutch, he said; "Unfortunately, being REAL is not enough for SOME PEOPLE", adding that the decision to quit international soccer gave him "much pain in my heart".
Martinez, who also sprung a surprise by not naming his final 23-man squad, declined to give details of what he called an "honest" talk with the player, who cemented his popularity among fans at Euro 2016 where Belgium reached the quarter-finals.
But his decision was tactical.
"We know that Radja has a very important role in his club and we cannot give him that role in our squad," Martinez told a news conference.