Belgium coach Roberto Martinez believes Wolves midfielder Leander Dendoncker played ‘like a regular’ in his side’s opening Euro 2020 qualifying campaign 3-1 win over Russia.
Martinez was full of enthusiasm for Dendoncker’s display, declaring he ‘sent out a clear message for Belgian football’.
Chelsea’s Eden Hazard was again the stand-out performer at King Baudouin Stadium, Brussels after the captain scored twice in their opening Group I qualifier.
But while showing appreciation for Hazard, Martinez also reckons the performances of Dendoncker, who won his seventh cap, and Leicester midfielder Youri Tielemans – who scored the other – offered plenty of encouragement for the future.
“When Eden plays like that, you just have to sit back and enjoy it,” said Martinez.
“But we also used players with less caps and less experience. Leander Dendoncker and Youri Tielemans showed that there are many younger players waiting to make the breakthrough.
“They have learnt a lot over the last year and played as if they were long-standing regulars in the team.
“Their performances send out a clear message for Belgian football. They are two players who earned their stripes in Belgian football and only then moved to clubs outside the country.”
“There are far too many talents who leave Belgium far too early.”
Dendoncker will be hoping for more action on Sunday, when they play their second qualifier, away to Cyprus. Hazard is expected to win his 100th cap in that game.