Radja Nainggolan is a Belgian professional footballer who currently plays for Serie A side AS Roma. He was born on 4 May 1988 in Antwerp, Belgium. Nainggolan is a central midfielder but is also versatile having played several different positions like defensive midfield and also on the wings. He is a box-to-box midfielder who combines strength and pace in midfield. Nainggolan is also known for his long-range shooting ability and his everlasting energy on the pitch.
Nainggolan started playing football with Tubantia Borgerhout in Belgium at just the age of five. His talent was recognised and he played his first youth game for Germinal Beerschot. From there on, it was all smooth for Nainggolan and he upped his game upon arrival in Italy.
Nainggolan has played for the following teams - Germinal Beerschot, Piacenza, Cagliari, Roma, Belgium U16, U19, U20, U21 and the senior side.
Nainggolan made his professional debut for Piacenza in the Serie B on 28 May 2006.
On 29 May 2009, Nainggolan earned his first cap for Belgium against Chile in the Kirin Cup.
Rise to Glory
Nainggolan made his international debut at just the age of 21 against Chile in a competitive tournament. He had special abilities in midfield, which also included good defending. He is considered to be one of the most complete midfielders in Europe owing to his versatility. So far, he hasn’t moved much and has played most of his career in Italy.
Nainggolan played for the Belgium youth squads, from the age of 16 to 21 choosing nation over club for football. After being given his first cap, Nainggolan seemed to settle right into the side until his exclusion from the 2014 World Cup squad. He was a starter in the 2016 UEFA Euro campaign in the qualifiers. He played the full 90 minutes in only a few matches in the tournament, and scored 2 goals, one against Sweden and another against Wales in the quarter-finals.
In 2017, Nainggolan expressed his desire to quit international football as he was not selected for the World Cup qualifying matches. But his decision was reversed when he was called up by Roberto Martinez for friendlies against Mexico and Japan. He pulled out of the squad owing to injury.
Nainggolan has played a total of 29 games, scoring 6 goals and setting up 3.
In May 2018, Nainggolan retired from international football after Martinez did not name him in the Belgian squad for the 2018 World Cup.
Nainggolan’s professional football career started with Serie B side Piacenza. After making his senior debut, he became a regular starter for the side in the 2008-09 season under Emilia-Romagna. He started 38 out of 42 games, and scored three goals to help the side avoid relegation.
The following year, Nainggolan was loaned to Serie A side Cagliari. He played just 7 games before the club announced that they had acquired Nainggolan in a co-ownership deal. He started regularly in the next season, mainly due to the absence of Daniele Conti. He made a total of 137 appearances over the next 4 seasons, scoring 7 goals and picking up 6 assists.
In 2014, AS Roma acquired Nainggolan on loan which included a 50% acquisition deal worth €6 million. He played 17 league games and scored two goals which was enough for his purchase. A permanent deal was signed in the summer of 2015 and he renewed the deal further up till 2020.
Nainggolan has settled into Roma’s machine, playing a massive 193 games in all competitions in just four years. His goal-scoring record improved and he scored 30 goals in his time. He also picked up 26 assists after settling into the central midfield position.