Why football thanks Eden Hazard

At just 32, Eden Hazard has announced his retirement from football on Tuesday 10th October.

“You must listen to yourself and say stop at the right time,” said the Belgian International via Instagram.

“After 16 years and more than 700 matches played, I have decided to end my career as a professional footballer. I was able to realise my dream, I have played and had fun on many pitches around the world. I also want to thank the clubs I have played for: LOSC, Chelsea and Real Madrid; and thank the RBFA for my Belgian selection. Now is the time to enjoy my loved ones and have new experiences.”

The latter stages of his career

In the summer of 2023, the Belgian international departed from La Liga side Real Madrid, one year before his contract was due to end. He was rumoured to sign for various clubs, but the player did no such thing.

Hazard joined Real Madrid in July 2019. The Spanish side paid approximately an initial transfer fee of £88.3m, with add-ons potentially rising to £150m. It is rumoured that it broke the fee of £90m that the club had paid for Gareth Bale in 2013.

In his time at Real Madrid, the winger only managed seven goals and 11 assists in the span of 73 games. His drop in form was triggered by an ankle injury in a Champions League clash between Real Madrid and PSG in November 2019. The ankle had been a persistent problem, but since that injury against PSG, he had completed 90 minutes for Madrid only once. Hazard has not shown anything close to his best form since that injury.

The player’s career has been plagued by injury throughout time, especially at the beginning of his time at Real Madrid. It is thought that his time at Madrid could have been one of legend status had it not been for injury. Staff and players who have worked with him have mentioned that his training ethic is not good, and that could have played a big role in injuries taking over his career.

Harzard’s former teammate John Obi Mikel once said, “He doesn’t train well, he is the worst trainer I’ve played with.” His former manager Jose Mourinho also claimed that Hazard is “an amazing player with awful training,” adding that if Hazard trained like a “top professional,” he would be far better.

The making of a legend

The winger will be remembered for the legacy he left at Lille, the Belgian national team, and, most notably, Chelsea.

Having represented Belgium in three World Cups and two European Championships, he earned 126 caps for his country before announcing his retirement from international football in December 2022. He finished his international career with 33 goals and 36 assists.

At Ligue 1 side Lille, he made 190 appearances and scored 50 goals before signing for Chelsea in June 2012. Signed for only £32 million, he went on to be a club great.

In his time at Chelsea, he made 352 appearances for the club, scoring 110 goals. Hazard at Chelsea was no stranger to victory, as together with his teammates, he won 2 Premier League titles, 2 Europa Leagues, 1 FA Cup and 1 League Cup.

The winger was a nightmare to defenders and was considered one of the best in the Premier League. Chelsea signed him off the back of a Champions League victory, and the winger made his mark right from the start, hitting the ground running. He quickly became a fan favourite, and was the kind of player that even without goals, his style of play and ability to break through any defense would always make the difference for the Blues.

In his prime, Hazard was viewed by some as the third-best player in the world behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. The Belgian was also often compared to those aforementioned football greats. Mikel John Obi was his teammate at Chelsea and said;

“I’ve always said that one of the players who was the most gifted, had everything – pace, power, skill, technique – is Eden Hazard.

“He was just behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. But it was only if he wanted to be. He was that good.”

Despite recent form, it is hard to deny the magic of Hazard’s touch as a playmaker and a finisher. What Eden Hazard brought to the pitch, the way the ball always seemed to be at his command, was special. He will be remembered for his glorious reign in the Premier League and will remain a legend forever.

The legend himself rounded off his retirement post with the words, “See you off the field soon my friends.”

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