Radja Nainggolan: Belgium boss Roberto Martinez was looking for reason not to pick me
Radja Nainggolan has dismissed Belgium coach Roberto Martinez' claim that he was left out of the country's World Cup squad for tactical reasons and hinted at disagreements about his lifestyle.
Martinez said leaving out a "top player" such as Nainggolan had been difficult but that his decision had been tactical.
However, the 30-year-old did not accept that explanation and said he did not feel his timekeeping or refusal to be a role model were an issue.
"I've played 300 matches in Serie A -- it's the most tactical competition in the world," he told Belgian TV channel Vier.
"After the training game against Spain, I was suddenly left out of the team. Was it because I arrived late? I don't want to mention any names, but that's happened with other players and they're still there.
"That some people criticise me for smoking I can understand. They feel that I should be a role model for youngsters.
"But if that's what I wanted to be, I would have become a primary school teacher or an educator. But I'm a footballer and I want to be judged based on my performances on the pitch."
Nainggolan helped Roma reach the Champions League semifinals but was omitted from the Belgium squad shortly after Martinez had travelled to Italy to meet him.
"In Rome, he explained that he hadn't yet made his decision -- but it was clear that he was looking for a reason not to pick me," he said.
The midfielder was first left out by Martinez in August last year and had been used sparingly since, but returned to play half an hour as a substitute in the friendly win over Saudi Arabia in March.
Mark covers European football for ESPN FC. Twitter: @mrodden