October 4, 2017 / 8:46 AM / a year ago

Manager Martinez lauds 'essential' Vertonghen

(Reuters) - Belgium manager Roberto Martinez has hailed Jan Vertonghen’s leadership qualities with the defender closing in on the national team’s all-time appearance record.

Soccer Football - 2018 World Cup Qualifications - Europe - Belgium vs Gibraltar - Liege, Belgium - August 31, 2017 Belgium coach Roberto Martinez REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Vertonghen currently has 95 caps for Belgium, just one short of Jan Ceulemans’s record of 96.

The 30-year-old Tottenham Hotspur centre back is likely to break the record when Belgium play Bosnia and Herzegovina and Cyprus in their final World Cup qualifiers.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Tottenham Hotspur vs Swansea City - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - September 16, 2017 Tottenham's Jan Vertonghen looks dejected REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

“There’s been a lot of talk about this golden generation, but it’s important we can have leadership and personality creating a team,” Martinez told reporters on Tuesday.

“I think that’s where Jan is essential. He’s a leader, he’s a really experienced head and that’s important. We’ve got a few of those and they’re going to guide the younger talent.

“To get 95 caps at this stage of his career is a sensational achievement. That just shows you the professionalism that he has.”

Martinez’s side, who are on 22 points, have already qualified for next year’s World Cup in Russia as winners of Group H.

Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly

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