Radja Nainggolan has endeavoured to laugh off his World Cup 2018 omission by Belgium, claiming that he now boasts a Guinness World Record for failed attempts to make the squad.
The Roma midfielder is among the more notable figures to have been overlooked by Roberto Martinez as the Red Devils boss pieces together his plans for a global showpiece in Russia.
Nainggolan has remained a regular at club level this season, taking in 40 appearances across all competitions, but has been unable to nail down a role in a star-studded Belgium side.
He has missed out on a place in their 23-man World Cup squad as a result, with the 30-year-old having announced his international retirement after seeing his dreams dashed for a second time .
A man who was also snubbed by Marc Wilmots in 2014 told Belgian publication HLN : “I have secured my place in the Guinness Book of Records as the only top player who missed two consecutive World Cups. It’s so incomprehensible that I can already laugh at it.”
Nainggolan added on his decision to walk away after earning 30 caps: “I’ve had enough, my farewell with the Red Devils is fixed, I'm not going to keep fighting.
“I had already planned in advance to stop if I was not allowed to join the World Cup squad.
“It is true that last year I also considered making myself unavailable for Belgium, but then I still hoped to be able to participate in Russia.
“To experience a World Cup was a boyhood dream, which has now been taken away from me.”
Kevin De Bruyne, Marouane Fellaini, Thorgan Hazard, Mousa Dembele and Axel Witsel are among the midfielders currently ahead of Nainggolan in the pecking order.
Martinez has defended his selection, with the former Everton manager claiming to have picked those who best fit his preferred system.
He said: “Radja Nainggolan is a top player. The reason is tactical.
“In the past two years the team has worked in a specific manner. Other players had those roles. We know Radja has a very important role in his club and we cannot give him that role in our squad.”
Nainggolan will now be watching on from afar when Belgium open their World Cup campaign against Panama on June 18 , before going on to face Tunisia and England in their other Group G fixtures.