Belgium midfielder Axel Witsel said on Saturday that finishing in third place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia was "also a victory" for his side.
Belgium defeated England 2-0 on Saturday and claimed third place at the tournament, which is their best performance ever at a World Cup. They had previously finished fourth at the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico.
"We've come a long way... The third place is also a victory. We'll come back to Belgium in a good mood. We took the game seriously, we didn't think that victory was already ours. Every player of the team tried hard to win... We wanted very much to make it into the history of the Belgian football," Witsel told journalists.
The 29-year-old played for the Russian Premier League club Zenit St. Petersburg from 2012 to 2017, where he made a total of 180 appearances and scored 22 goals for the club. He added that he was happy to meet his former teammate, ex-Zenit forward and Russia’s all-time top goalscorer Aleksandr Kerzhakov before the game.
"I was happy to come back to St. Petersburg, as I've spent so many happy years in Zenit. I met [Aleksandr] Kerzhakov today, I was happy to see him. We chatted for a while, I gave him my jersey... Frankly speaking, I'd prefer not to come back to St. Petersburg, but to play in the final game in Moscow. But today we're happy... The third place matters much to us," Witsel said.