Chelsea’s Eden Hazard has been named captain of the Belgian national team ahead of June’s European Championship.
With Manchester City center-back and Belgium skipper Vincent Kompany set to miss the tournament through injury, Hazard was handed the captain’s armband in a somewhat surprising decision.
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After being named Premier League Player of the Year for the 2014-15 season, Hazard struggled mightily this year with Chelsea, losing his starting position in the process. However, after failing to score in his first 26 matches, Hazard has scored four goals in his last four matches for the Blues, heating up at just the right time for EURO 2016.
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Manager Marc Wilmots has picked a Premier League-heavy side, with 12 of his 23 roster spots going to players from England, including Hazard’s Chelsea teammate Thibaut Courtois. Three Tottenham players are also on the squad, center-back pairing Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld along with midfieler Moussa Dembele.
Liverpool striker Divock Origi has been named to Wilmots’ side, a sign he is nearing a return to full health. The 21-year-old has not played since suffering an ankle injury in late April, and his status for EURO 2016 was believed to be up in the air.
Belgium EURO 2016 Complete Roster
Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea), Jean-Francois Gillet (Catania, on loan from Mechelen), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool)
Defenders: Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham), Dedryck Boyata (Celtic), Jason Denayer (Galatasaray, on loan from Manchester City), Bjorn Engels (Club Brugge), Nicolas Lombaerts (Zenit St Petersburg), Jordan Lukaku (Oostende), Thomas Meunier (Club Brugge), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham)
Forwards: Michy Batshauyi (Olympique Marseille), Christian Benteke (Liverpool), Yannick Carrasco (Atletico Madrid), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Romelu Lukaku (Everton), Dries Mertens (Napoli), Divock Origi (Liverpool)
Standby list: Nacer Chadli (Tottenham), Kevin Mirallas (Everton), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Monchengladbach), Laurent Ciman (Montreal Impact), Guillaume Gillet (Nantes), Laurens De Bock (Club Brugge), Matz Sels (Gent)