Eden Hazard believes he has a lot to offer Belgium at the World Cup and is confident he can prove his detractors wrong as the midfielder ruled out an imminent departure from Real Madrid.
Hazard, going to the global showpiece tournament for the third time, is Belgium captain but has barely played for Real this season after falling out of favor under coach Carlo Ancelotti.
The 31-year-old, however, is comparing the situation to the European Championship in 2020 when he also went into the competition lacking game time.
"I'm keeping my smile," he told reporters on Monday. "I've had a difficult few months where I haven't been able to gain much rhythm. I now have to show that I can still do it. I don't doubt it myself, but I understand that the outside world does.
"Just like at the last Euros. I gained minutes in the first matches and was there in the quarterfinal against Portugal. Our medical and technical staff will help me (be ready). I feel good physically. Of course, I miss rhythm, that's why the last practice match against Egypt (is important). Then I want to be there for the first match (in Qatar)."
Belgium play Egypt in Kuwait in a warm-up on Friday and a fit and firing Hazard is key for coach Roberto Martínez as leader of their so-called "Golden Generation."
"I have not suddenly lost my qualities. This will be my third World Cup and I want to show that Belgium can still count on its captain and that I want to give everything (for the team). Together with a few other boys, I have reached an age where you can drop out (of the team). But not before going all out in Qatar first."
Belgium, who finished third at the 2018 World Cup, have been drawn in Group F and open their campaign against Canada on Nov. 23, before taking on Morocco and Croatia.
"Our first focus should be on surviving the group stage," Hazard said. "Then anything is possible if we give the maximum. Quarterfinal, semifinal or even the final."
He also reiterated he has no plans to leave Madrid in January.
"I don't want to leave Real. Maybe things will look different (for me there) after the World Cup," Hazard said.
(Reporting by Nick Said, editing by Ed Osmond)