West Brom forward Nacer Chadli: I almost quit game with injury hell
Nacer Chadli has revealed he nearly retired from football last season as he bids to become the first Albion player to reach the final of a World Cup.
Chadli’s season was ravaged by injury, and the club record signing made just two starts in the Premier League as the Baggies were relegated.
But the Belgian has enjoyed a stunning turnaround this summer, and by reaching the semi-final, he has already gone further in the World Cup than any other Baggies player while still at the club.
Stuart Williams reached the quarter-finals with Wales in 1958, while Bobby Robson, Don Howe, and Derek Kevan were all in the England squad that reached the same stage in 1962, although none of them featured in the 3-1 defeat to Brazil.
And Chadli, who has been lining up alongside former Baggie Romelu Lukau, is delighted to be involved in Belgium’s run after being shocked to even be included in Roberto Martinez’s squad.
“Every time I came back from injury, I got injured again,” he said. “I couldn’t work out why my body was no longer responding. I told myself that it was fate, and that I had to accept it.
“I’ve had a chaotic year. It has been really tough, to the extent that I’ve considered calling it a day. What I’m experiencing now is unreal. Quite simply, I’m over the moon.
“It was a long struggle. I didn’t think that I was going to get called up. I wouldn’t have believed it if you’d told me that I was about to experience everything I’m going through now,”
Chadli started Russia 2018 on the bench for Belgium but has played his way into Martinez’s side.
After scoring a dramatic injury-time winner against Japan in the round of 16, he started for Belgium in their stunning quarter-final victory over favourites Brazil.
The 28-year-old, who is still the club’s record signing following his £18m move from Spurs two summers ago, is expected to keep his place against France tonight.
And he has faith in Martinez after the former Everton boss made changes to the formation that helped Belgium overcome Brazil.
“All the players think that our manager is a step ahead tactically and I think that our hunger for victory will be greater than theirs too,” he added.