Roberto Martinez praises 'essential' Jan Vertonghen as he closes in on Belgium appearance record
By Joe Shread
Last Updated: 03/10/17 5:37pm
Roberto Martinez has described Jan Vertonghen as "essential" with the defender closing in on Belgium's all-time appearance record.
Vertonghen currently has 95 caps for his country, which leaves him just one short of Jan Ceulemans' record of 96.
The Tottenham Hotspur defender is likely to break the record during the current international break, when Belgium play Bosnia and Herzegovina and Cyprus in their final World Cup Qualifiers.
Martinez said: "There's been a lot of talk about this golden generation, but it's important we can have leadership and personality creating a team.
"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."
Ceulemans' record has stood since 1991. Vertonghen, 30, made his international debut in a 2-1 loss to Portugal in 2007.
Martinez's Belgium have already qualified for next summer's World Cup with two matches remaining.