Belgium sack coach Marc Wilmots
Belgium sacked national coach Marc Wilmots after their highly fancied team of star individuals failed to advance beyond the quarter-finals at Euro 2016 this month, a senior Belgian Football Association official told a news conference on Friday.
The former Schalke midfielder, 47, had coached the Red Devils for four years, taking them to the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 2014 and seeing them top FIFA's world rankings with a team built around Chelsea's Eden Hazard and Manchester City pair Vincent Kompany and Kevin De Bruyne.
But a shock 3-1 defeat to Wales in the Euro 2016 quarters left critics calling for Wilmots' head and Belgian fans wondering what happened to the team that many had hoped would deliver the country's first major trophy.
“The Royal Belgian Football Association have made an agreement with Marc Wilmots to end his contract, that lasted until 2018,” read a statement on Belgium’s official website.
When Wilmots took over in 2012, Belgium had not qualified for a major tournament in ten years and were languishing in 54th place in the FIFA world rankings. He leaves having taken them to the quarter-finals of both the World Cup and the Euros, which, on the surface, looks a fine return.
However, in truth, his tenure has been one of missed opportunity and underachievement: Belgium have one of the best squads in world football and, to be blunt, he has failed to make the most of that squad.
And for that, he has paid the price.