Thomas Briels concluded his spectacular international career on a high note as he confirmed he would retire in the wake of Belgium’s Olympic gold medal.
The 33-year-old Antwerp man played for the Red Lions for 13 years and 359 caps, culminating in Tokyo glory.
It capped a rollercoaster year in which he had gone from the team’s captain to then being initially named as a reserve for the Olympics.
But a tweak in the rules allowed reserves to play a role in the main squad and he duly lined out in seven of the eight matches at the Games, including the historic final.
He duly added Olympic gold to World and European success as well as the 2016 silver medal.
“Here we are, we have just completed in the most beautiful way this 15 year epic, an extraordinary adventure at the end of which we went in search of this gold medal,” Briels said after the final
“I did my job for the team, make way for young people! Of course, what happened over the past few weeks influenced my decision. This team has given me a lot.
“It is also a question of being honest to the young guys which explains why I will stop.”