Wednesday 12 December 2018

Belgium winger Adnan Januzaj delighted to silence his critics

The former Manchester United and Sunderland player scored the winner against England.

Adnan Januzaj netted the winner against England (Aaron Chown/PA)
Adnan Januzaj netted the winner against England (Aaron Chown/PA)

By Rory Dollard, Press Association Sport, Kaliningrad

Belgium winger Adnan Januzaj believes he has shown sceptical English fans his true quality after downing the Three Lions with a sweetly-struck winner in Kaliningrad.

Januzaj toyed with Danny Rose before unleashing a classy finish to hand Belgium a 1-0 win over England on Thursday.

The Red Devils duly topped Group G with maximum points, which could turn out to be a dubious honour if it leads to a quarter-final meeting with Brazil.

But for Januzaj there was a case of personal pride – as well as national interest – at stake.

He was briefly flavour of the month when he came through the ranks at Manchester United, with suggestions the Football Association had even looked into his eligibility for England.

His Old Trafford career soon went off the boil and he left for Real Sociedad after an unsuccessful loan stint at Sunderland spelled the end of his Premier League adventure.

“Obviously my job was to show the people, in the past in England, I had a lot of criticism,” he said after his first international goal.

“I wanted to show those people that I’m here. I’m very happy with that. I’m very pleased to score a great goal against a good opponent.

“I’ve put in a lot of work. This year I’ve been playing in a team at Real Sociedad who have made me grow as a player. At 23, the most important thing is to play games and keep progressing. I’m very pleased to be going that way.”

Januzaj still faces a battle to crack Belgium’s star-studded first XI, only getting his chance against England as both sides rang the changes, but he now has the taste for the big stage.

“I hope now to keep going,” he said.

“My first goal, there is no greater feeling. I was very pleased with that, and hopefully there’ll be more to come in the future.”

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