Eden Hazard

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Eden Hazard
Chelsea 2 QPR 1 (15684375751).jpg
Hazard playing for Chelsea in 2014
Personal information
Full name Eden Michael Hazard[1]
Date of birth (1991-01-07) 7 January 1991 (age 23)
Place of birth La Louvière, Belgium
Height 1.72 m (5 ft 8 in)[2]
Playing position Attacking midfielder / Winger
Club information
Current team
Chelsea
Number 10
Youth career
1995–2003 Royal Stade Brainois
2003–2005 Tubize
2005–2007 Lille
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2007–2012 Lille 147 (36)
2012– Chelsea 85 (29)
National team
2006 Belgium U15 5 (1)
2006 Belgium U16 4 (2)
2006–2008 Belgium U17 17 (2)
2007–2009 Belgium U19 11 (6)
2008– Belgium 50 (6)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 23:40, 13 December 2014 (UTC).

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 17:59, 5 July 2014 (UTC)

Eden Michael Hazard (French pronunciation: ​[edɛn azɑʁ]; born 7 January 1991) is a Belgian professional footballer, who plays for Chelsea and the Belgium national team. He primarily plays as an attacking midfielder and a winger. Hazard is known for his creativity, speed, and technical ability and has been described as a "fearless, explosive attacking midfielder who can change the game with a turn of pace or a dribble".[3][4][5] He has also been described as "a superb passer" and has earned critical acclaim for his playing style, which has led to the media, coaches, and players drawing comparisons to FIFA Ballon d'Or winners Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.[3][6][7][8][9][10][11] Hazard is regarded to be one of the best young players in the world.[12][13][14][15]

Hazard is the son of former Belgian footballers and began his football career in Belgium playing for local clubs Royal Stade Brainois and Tubize. In 2005, he moved to France joining first division club Lille. Hazard spent two years in the club's academy and, at the age of 16, made his professional debut in November 2007. He went on to become an integral part of Lille under manager Rudi Garcia, racking up over 190 appearances. In his first full season as a starter, he won the National Union of Professional Footballers (UNFP) Young Player of the Year award becoming the first non-French player to win the award.[16] In the 2009–10 season, Hazard captured the award again becoming the first player to win the award twice.[17] He was also named to the league's Team of the Year.

In the 2010–11 season, he was a part of the Lille team that won the league and cup double and, as a result of his performances, was named the UNFP Ligue 1 Player of the Year becoming the youngest player to win the award.[18] Hazard was also given the Bravo Award by Italian magazine Guerin Sportivo for his performances during the 2010–11 season.[19] In June 2012, after over eight years at Lille, Hazard departed the club, amid much transfer speculation, to join English club Chelsea.

Hazard is a Belgium international, having represented his nation at under-17 and under-19 level. Prior to starring for the senior team, he played on the under-17 team that qualified for the 2007 UEFA European Under-17 Football Championship and 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup. Hazard made his senior international debut in November 2008, at the age of 17 years and 316 days, in a friendly match against Luxembourg. Nearly three years after his debut, Hazard scored his first international goal against Kazakhstan in October 2011. He has since earned 50 caps, and was a member of the Belgian squad which reached the quarter-finals of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Early life

Hazard was born in La Louvière and grew up in Braine-le-Comte. His mother, Carine, and father, Thierry, were both footballers. His father spent most of his career playing at semi-professional level with La Louvière in the Belgian Second Division.[20] He played mainly as a defensive midfielder.[20] His mother played as a striker in the Belgian Women's First Division and stopped playing when she was three months pregnant with Eden.[20][21] After playing football, both parents became sports teachers.[20] Thierry retired from his position in 2009 in order to devote more time to his children.[20]

Hazard is the eldest of four children. He has three brothers, all of whom play football, including Thorgan, who joined him at Chelsea in 2012 and had previously progressed through the youth ranks of Lille's biggest rivals Lens.[22][23][24][25] Hazard's other younger brothers are Kylian and Ethan. In July 2013, Kylian joined White Star Bruxelles, but now plays for Zulte Waregem, while Ethan remains playing in the youth academy of Eden's former club Tubize.[20][23][26][27]

Hazard and his three brothers were raised in a comfortable environment with their parents ensuring they had whatever they needed to excel.[28] The family lived "no more than three meters" from a football training ground and the brothers often ventured onto a training pitch through a small hole in order to hone and develop their skills.[21]

Club career

Early career

Hazard began his football career playing for hometown club Royal Stade Brainois at the age of four. During his time at the club, one of his youth coaches described him as a "gifted" player. He added: "He knew everything. I had nothing to teach him".[29] Hazard spent eight years at the club before moving to Tubize. While at Tubize, he was spotted by a Lille scout while playing in a local tournament with the club. The scout's subsequent report on the player prompted club officials to meet with Hazard's father and offer the young player an aspirant (youth) contract.[30]

Hazard's parents accepted the offer from Lille with hopes that the training facilities in France would be better.[28] Hazard's father later admitted that the decision to let Eden and, later Thorgan, join clubs in the North of France was the best solution stating "They remained so close to home and, at the same time, they integrated at structures where they could grow, because in Belgium, unfortunately, it's a little empty for the training of youth".[21]

Lille

Hazard joined Lille in 2005 and spent two years developing in the club's local sports school, due to its youth academy in Luchin not being in operation at that time.[31] On 28 May 2007, he signed his first professional contract agreeing to a three year deal with Lille.[30] At the start of the 2007–08 season, at the age of 16, Hazard was promoted to the club's reserve team in the Championnat de France amateur, the fourth level of French football, though he still played with Lille's under-18 team in its league and the Coupe Gambardella. Hazard made his amateur debut on 1 September 2007 in a league match against Racing Club de France appearing as a second-half substitute in a 3–1 defeat.[32] He made his first start a week later in the team's 1–0 defeat to Lesquin.[33]

After spending the majority of October and the early part of November playing with the club's under-18 team, on 14 November, due to several players being on international duty, Hazard was called up to the senior team by manager Claude Puel to participate in a friendly match against Belgian club Bruges on 16 November.[34] He appeared as a substitute in the match and, as a result of his performance, was included in the 18-man squad to face Nancy in a league match on 24 November.[35] Hazard, subsequently, made his professional debut in the match coming on as a substitute in the 78th minute.[36]

Hazard returned to the club's reserve team and spent December playing with the squad. Following the winter break, Hazard returned to the first team in January and made substitute appearances in three league matches against Metz, Sochaux, and Paris Saint-Germain.[37][38][39] Following the match against Paris Saint-Germain, he was demoted back to amateur level where he played concurrently with the reserve team in the fourth division and the under-18 team in the Coupe Gambardella. On 17 May 2008, he scored his first amateur goal in a 3–2 victory over Vitré.[40] Hazard finished his amateur career with 11 appearances and one goal, helping the reserve team finished in fifth place, which was first among professional clubs' reserve teams playing in the group.[41][42]

2008–09 season

For the 2008–09 season, Hazard was given the number 26 shirt after playing with the number 33 shirt in his debut season. He was also promoted to the senior team permanently by new manager Rudi Garcia. Early on, he made substitute appearances regularly making his season debut as a substitute on 14 September 2008 against Sochaux in a 1–1 draw.[43] One of his substitute appearances proved beneficial against Auxerre on 20 September. With Lille trailing 2–1 in the waning minutes of the match, Hazard, after Lille took a corner kick, quickly scooped up a short clearance from Auxerre and took a right-footed shot just outside the box. It beat the keeper and drew the score 2–2 in the 88th minute.[44] With Lille's confidence high, the club won the match 3–2 in injury time following a goal from Tulio de Melo.[45] Hazard's first career goal resulted in him becoming the youngest goalscorer in the club's history.[46]

Four days after scoring his first professional goal, Hazard made his first professional start in a 4–2 defeat on penalties to Montpellier in the Coupe de la Ligue.[47] After featuring as a substitute in the team's next five league matches, on 15 November, Hazard made his first professional league start against Saint-Étienne. He capped the appearance by scoring the opening goal in the club's 3–0 victory.[48] His assured performances with the club resulted in Lille offering him a three year contract extension, which he agreed to on 18 November 2008, tying him to the club until 2012.[49]

After featuring as a substitute in December, Hazard returned to the starting lineup in January. On 23 January, he scored the second goal in a 3–0 win over amateur club Dunkerque in Round of 32 of the Coupe de France.[50] Two weeks later, he scored the match-winning goal in a league match against Sochaux and, on 22 February, assisted on the winner against Monaco.[51][52] In the Round of 16 of the Coupe de France, Hazard netted a goal in a 3–2 win over the competition's defending champions Lyon.[53] On 26 April, he scored the opening goal against Marseille, though Lille lost the match 2–1.[54] In the final ten league matches of the campaign, Hazard started eight and contributed to the team finishing in fifth place, which resulted in Lille qualifying for the newly created UEFA Europa League. After the season, he was named the National Union of Professional Footballers (UNFP) Young Player of the Year, becoming the first international player to achieve the honor.[17]

2009–10 season

“Eden is technically gifted and very fast. He will be a major star in the future. I would take him to Real Madrid with my eyes closed."

Zinedine Zidane on the 19 year old Eden Hazard, August 2010.[55]

Following the 2008–09 season, constant media speculation occurred in numerous countries regarding Hazard's availability on the transfer market. Despite Lille chairman Michel Seydoux declaring the player off limits and Hazard stating that he wanted to remain at the club for at least another season, several clubs declared interest in the player.[56][57] These included English clubs Arsenal and Manchester United, Italian club Internazionale, and Spanish clubs Barcelona and Real Madrid. French football legend Zinedine Zidane personally recommended the player to the latter club.[58][59][60][61][62]

Hazard began the 2009–10 season on a positive note scoring in Lille's first competitive match of the season. The goal, contributing to the team's 2–0 victory, came against Serbian club FK Sevojno in the first leg of the club's third qualifying round match in the UEFA Europa League.[63] On 27 August, he scored his second career European goal in the club's second leg tie in the playoff round against Belgian club Genk. It was Lille's final goal in the club's 4–2 victory.[64] The 6–3 aggregate scoreline assured the club progression to the Europa League group stage.

On 22 October, Hazard scored a goal in Lille's important 3–0 victory over Italian club Genoa in the 84th minute after entering as a substitute 10 minutes prior. Upon receiving the ball on the left wing, Hazard proceeded to dash through the midfield dribbling past six Genoa defenders before finishing at the 18-yard box.[65][66] A month later, Hazard was instrumental in Lille's 5–1 thrashing of Czech club Slavia Prague as he was partly responsible for the opening goal — slicing through the defense and delivering a cross near post, which went off Slavia player Marek Suchý resulting in an own goal.[67]

On 20 December, Hazard scored his first league goal of the season in the club's 3–0 win over Le Mans. He also provided both the assists on the other two goals.[68] On 30 January, Hazard scored the only goal in Lille's win over Derby du Nord rivals Lens.[69] The victory helped the club achieve stability in the league by keeping them in the UEFA Champions League places. It also ended a disaster of a week which saw Lille suffer elimination from both of France's cup competitions. Five days later, Hazard and Lille reached an agreement on a contract extension, which will keep the player at the club until 2014.[70][71] On 11 March, Hazard scored the only goal in Lille's victory over English club Liverpool in the first leg of the club's UEFA Europa League tie converting a free kick in the 83rd minute.[72] Three weeks later, Hazard provided two assists in the club's 4–1 win over fellow title contenders Montpellier.[73] The two passes brought his league tally to seven, tied for second in the league. For his impressive displays in the month of March, Hazard was given the UNFP Player of the Month award.[74]

On 29 April, Hazard was nominated for the UNFP Ligue 1 Player of the Year award. He was also nominated, for the second consecutive season, for the Young Player of the Year award.[75] On 9 May, Hazard was awarded the UNFP Young Player of the Year trophy for the second consecutive season. He became the first player since its inception in 1994 to win the award twice.[17] Hazard lost out on the Player of the Year award, which was awarded to Lyon striker Lisandro López.

2010–11 season

Hazard began the 2010–11 campaign as a starter featuring in Lille's first six league matches of the season, as well as matches in the UEFA Europa League. On 29 August 2010, he scored his first goal of the season in a 1–1 draw with Nice.[76] In late September, Hazard began to struggle with inconsistency and was benched by Garcia in an effort to "allow him (Hazard) to breathe and learn that his performances were insufficient".[77] Hazard, subsequently, appeared as a substitute in the team's 2–1 defeat to Portuguese club Sporting in the Europa League and as a substitute in the next three league matches against Toulouse, Montpellier, and Lyon.[78][79][80] Hazard later admitted that his first bout of inconsistency affected him stating "The first two months were a bit tough. I wouldn’t say that I began doubting my abilities, but I definitely went through a really patchy spell".[81]

On 7 October, Belgium national team manager Georges Leekens, citing Hazard's recent spell on the bench at Lille, said that the player needed to work harder, both physically and mentally, to regain his past year's form. The team's assistant coach, Marc Wilmots, also stated that Hazard often displayed a lazy mentality while training with the national team.[82] Garcia responded to Leekens comments the following day stating that he thought they were "excessive" and that "Eden is only 19 years old" and can still "make more progress in all areas."[83] Following Belgium's match against Kazakhstan, in which Hazard failed to start or even appear on the substitute's bench, Leekens responded to Garcia's comments declaring that he would stand by his previous comments and that players must think about the team and not themselves.[84] Hazard, himself, later reflected on Leekens and Garcia comments in February 2011 stating "I learned a lot during those few weeks, mentally speaking. And since then things have got better. The national side has had a fair bit to do with that – I get a lot out of being a part of it".[81]

Following the international break, Hazard recaptured his scoring form netting the final goal in Lille's 4–1 victory over Caen in the Coupe de la Ligue on 27 October.[85] Ten days later, he scored his second league goal of the season in a 3–1 win against the league table leaders Brest.[86] On 21 November, Hazard assisted on both Lille's goals in a 2–1 win over Monaco.[87] The victory continued the club's domestic unbeaten streak, which led to Lille topping the league table following an emphatic 6–3 victory against Lorient on 5 December.[88] At the turn of the calendar year, Hazard scored in the team's first match against amateur club Forbach in the Coupe de France. Lille won the match 3–1.[89] In the team's following match, he assisted on goals scored by Moussa Sow and Gervinho in a 2–0 league victory over Nice.[90]

On 19 January, Hazard scored the second goal in a 3–0 victory over Nancy.[91] On 4 March, Lille officials confirmed that Hazard had added an extra year to his contract. The new deal tied him to the club until 2015 and also made him the highest paid player in Ligue 1 beginning with the 2011–12 season.[92][93][94] In his first match after the news, Hazard scored the opening goal in Lille's 2–1 away win over title rivals Marseille.[95] The goal was scored on a left-footed shot from almost 35 metres (38 yd) out and was clocked at 95 km/h (59 mph).[96]

On 2 April, Hazard capped his 100th league appearance with Lille by scoring the second goal in a 3–1 win over Caen.[97] The goal tied his career-high for goals in a season and also moved Lille eight points clear at the top of the league table.[98] For his performances in the month of March, Hazard was named the UNFP Player of the Month for the second time in his career.[99] On 19 April, after appearing as a first-half substitute, he scored the opening goal in Lille's 2–0 Coupe de France semi-final victory over Nice.[100] The victory inserted the club into the 2011 Coupe de France Final; the club's first appearance in the competition's final since 1955. On 7 May, Hazard converted a game-winning free-kick goal in the team's 1–0 win over Nancy.[101] Three days later, he was nominated for the UNFP Ligue 1 Player of the Year award for the second consecutive season.[102]

In the Coupe de France final, Hazard played 89 minutes as Lille defeated Paris Saint-Germain 1–0 at the Stade de France.[103] A week later, Lille clinched the Ligue 1 title by drawing 2–2 away to Paris Saint-Germain, achieving the club's first league championship since the 1953–54 season and the club's first double since the 1945–46 season.[104][105] The domestic cup and league title were the first two honours in Hazard's career. On the day after Lille won the league, Hazard was named the UNFP Ligue 1 Player of the Year becoming the youngest player ever to win the award.[106] He was also rewarded with a place in the organization's Team of the Year for the second consecutive season.[18]

2011–12 season

Hazard taking a corner-kick for Lille in 2011

Ahead of the 2011–12 season, Hazard switched to the number 10 shirt.[107] In Lille's first competitive match of the season against Marseille in the 2011 Trophée des Champions, Hazard scored the team's second goal, which put Lille up 2–0. Marseille would later come back to win the match 5–4.[108] On 20 August, in the team's third league match of the season, Hazard assisted on Lille's opening goal, scored by Benoît Pedretti, in a 2–1 win over Caen.[109] A month later on 10 September, he scored two goals in a 3–1 away victory against Saint-Étienne.[110][111] Fours days after, Hazard made his UEFA Champions League debut in a 2–2 group stage draw with Russian club CSKA Moscow.[112]

In Lille's next league match following his Champions League debut, he converted a penalty in a 2–2 draw with Sochaux.[113] Three days after, Hazard scored the equalizing goal in a 1–1 draw against Bordeaux.[114] Against Turkish outfit Trabzonspor on 27 September, he assisted on Lille's only goal, scored by Moussa Sow, in a 1–1 draw.[115] After going over two months without scoring a league goal, on 3 December, Hazard came on as a substitute and scored the match-winning goal in a win over Ajaccio converting a penalty—described as an "Antonín Panenka-style chipped penalty".[116][117] Two days later, Hazard was among several players nominated for the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Team of the Year for the 2011 calendar year.[118]

In Lille's final match before the winter break, Hazard tied his career-high for league goals in a season by scoring the team's third goal in a 4–4 draw with Nice.[119] After scoring the goal, Hazard celebrated by paying tribute to Molami Bokoto, a former Lille youth academy player who had died a day prior.[120][121] In Lille's first match following the 2011–12 winter break, Hazard scored his ninth goal of the campaign in a 6–0 away win over amateur club Chantilly in the Coupe de France.[122] In the following month, Lille were defeated 2–0 by league rivals Marseille and eliminated from both national cup competitions.[123][124][125]

On 28 January, Hazard scored the team's opening goal converting a penalty in a 3–0 win over Saint-Étienne.[126] Two weeks later, he converted a free kick goal against Bordeaux. Lille had been trailing 4–1 prior to the goal and eventually recovered to draw the match at 4–4, however, Bordeaux scored in injury time to secure a thrilling 5–4 win.[127][128] On 3 March, Hazard scored both team goals in a 2–2 draw with Auxerre.[129]

On 18 March, Hazard scored a goal and assisted on two others in a 4–0 win over local rivals Valenciennes.[130] In Lille's next match against Evian, Hazard converted a penalty and assisted on a goal by Dimitri Payet in a 3–0 win.[131] The following week, on 1 April 2012, Hazard converted a first-half penalty and later assisted on another Payet goal to cap a 2–1 victory over Toulouse.[132][133]

On 15 April, Hazard marked his 100 consecutive Ligue 1 appearance, which to date, is the longest current run in the French top flight, by scoring a goal and assisting on another in a 4–1 win over Ajaccio.[134][135] A week later, Hazard scored another goal, this time in a 2–0 win over Dijon.[136] On 29 April, in a vital league fixture against Paris Saint-Germain, he converted his ninth penalty of the season to draw the match at 1–1 canceling out a goal from Javier Pastore. Hazard later contributed to Lille's game-winning goal after delivering a rabona-style cross into the box, which was laid onto the path of striker Nolan Roux who, subsequently, converted the goal to give Lille a 2–1 win.[137][138]

On 28 April, for the third consecutive season, Hazard was nominated for the UNFP Player of the Year award.[139] Two weeks later, he was awarded the prestigious honour ahead of the likes of Olivier Giroud and Younès Belhanda.[140] After capturing the award, Hazard became the second player in the awards' history after former Paris Saint-Germain striker Pauleta to achieve the honour in consecutive seasons.[141] He was also included in the Team of the Year for the third straight season. On 20 May, Hazard appeared in his final match as a Lille player, coincidentally, against Nancy, the club he made his professional debut against. In the match, Hazard recorded his first professional hat-trick in a 4–1 win.[142]

Chelsea

Hazard playing for Chelsea in September 2012

On 4 June 2012, Chelsea officially confirmed on its website that the club had agreed terms with Lille for the transfer of Hazard. The midfielder agreed personal terms with the club and passed a medical examination. The transfer fee was reported to be priced at £32 million.[143]

Upon signing with Chelsea, Hazard told the club's official website "I'm delighted to finally arrive here. It's a wonderful club and I can't wait to get started".[144] Hazard was given the number 17, which was previously worn by José Bosingwa.[145] On 18 July, Hazard made his Chelsea debut in the club's first pre-season friendly against the Seattle Sounders and played the majority of the match, opening his Chelsea scoring account.

2012–13 season

Hazard playing for Chelsea in October 2012

On 12 August 2012, Hazard made his competitive debut for Chelsea in the 2012 FA Community Shield against Manchester City, which ended in a 3–2 defeat at Villa Park.[146] A week later, he made his league debut against Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium. In the contest, Hazard provided the assist for Branislav Ivanović's opening goal and, minutes later, won a penalty, which Frank Lampard converted, earning his side a 2–0 victory.[147][148][149] He made his Stamford Bridge debut in the team's next fixture, against Reading on 22 August, he won another penalty from which Lampard converted. Hazard also assisted on goals by Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanović as Chelsea won 4–2 at Stamford Bridge.[150][151] Three days later, Hazard scored his first goal as a Chelsea player in the team's league match against Newcastle United after scoring a penalty. Chelsea won the match 2–0.[152]

Hazard made his Champions League debut for Chelsea in the team's opening group stage game against Juventus.[153] On 6 October, he scored his second goal for Chelsea in a 4–1 win against Norwich City.[154] During December he scored in back-to-back games, in a 5–1 win against Leeds United in the League Cup,[155] and an 8–0 league win against Aston Villa.[156]

In January 2013, Hazard scored a stunning goal with his left-foot from 25 yards in Chelsea's 0–4 win over Stoke City, as Chelsea inflicted the first home defeat of the season on Stoke.[157] He scored again in the following game, with an impressive strike from the edge of the area in a 2–2 draw at home to Southampton.[158]

"I've said to him he has got absolutely everything. He's only 22, he has the world at his feet and with the way he’s playing and the ability he has on the ball, he is scaring the life out of people."

Frank Lampard on the 22 year old Eden Hazard, March 2013.[159]

On 23 January 2013, he was sent off in the Football League Cup semi-final second leg game against Swansea City for kicking a ball out from underneath a ball boy who was lying on it in order to waste time. Chelsea went on to lose the tie 2–0.[160][161] Thereafter, he told Chelsea TV that he "apologised and the boy apologised" to each other.[162] On 9 February, he scored on his return from suspension in a 4–1 win at home against Wigan Athletic.[163]

On 21 February 2013, Hazard came on as a substitute against Sparta Prague and scored an individual goal in stoppage time, to send Chelsea through to the last 16 on a 2–1 aggregate score.[164][165] Again Hazard came off the bench to make an impact for Chelsea, scoring a goal and providing an assist to Ramires, as the Blues came back from 2–0 down to salvage a 2–2 draw against Manchester United in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup on 10 March, setting up a replay at Stamford Bridge.[166] On 17 March 2013, Hazard put in a Man of the Match performance at Stamford Bridge in a 2–0 victory over West Ham United, assisting on Frank Lampard's 200th Chelsea goal, then scoring a solo goal.[167] On 11 May 2013, at Villa Park, Hazard was the provider of Lampard's brace against Aston Villa, which enabled Lampard to break Bobby Tambling's all-time goal scoring record for Chelsea. Hazard ended his debut campaign at Chelsea with 13 goals in all competitions.

2013–14 season

Hazard playing against Galatasaray in a Champions League match

One of Chelsea's first games of the season was against Bayern Munich in the 2013 UEFA Super Cup, where Hazard played a vital role in the build up to the first goal and scored the second, but went on to an eventual 5–4 defeat in the penalty shoot-out.[168] In October 2013, Hazard, as a substitute, scored the game-clinching goal in a 3–1 Premier League clash against Norwich City at Carrow Road,[169] before scoring twice and assisting Samuel Eto'o's first Chelsea goal in a comprehensive defeat of Cardiff City in the same competition.[170] Hazard netted his fifth goal of the season against Schalke in a crucial 0–3 Champions League Group Stage win.[171] In October, Hazard was part of the 23-man shortlist of players nominated for the prestigious FIFA Ballon d'Or, awarded to the player who is voted the men's world footballer of the year.[172]

On 9 November 2013, Hazard created Chelsea's first goal against West Bromwich Albion, which was scored by Samuel Eto'o. Later in the match Chelsea went 2–1 down, but Hazard scored a last minute penalty to clinch a point for his team.[173] On 4 December 2013, Hazard scored a brace in a 4–3 away victory over Sunderland,[174] with coach José Mourinho claiming that Hazard delivered his best performance of the season.[175] Sunderland manager Gus Poyet also praised Hazard for his individual impact on the game. Poyet said: "Eden Hazard was outstanding. He was unplayable, as a manager I haven't come up against anyone like that."[176]

"I keep saying he has to improve. He needs to have his feet on the ground. Ronaldo and Messi are Ronaldo and Messi. Eden Hazard is probably the best young player in the world with legs to go there, but give him time"

José Mourinho on the 23-year-old Eden Hazard, February 2014.[177]

On 26 December 2013, Hazard scored the only goal in Chelsea's 1–0 victory over Swansea.[178] In Chelsea's next league match, Hazard scored a goal from 25 yards during Chelsea's 2–1 victory over Liverpool.[179] The following week, Hazard scored the opening goal in Chelsea's 2–0 victory away to Hull City.[180] After Hazard maintained his excellent form in Chelsea's 1–0 victory over Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on 3 February 2014, Mourinho declared Hazard as the best young footballer in the world.[181][182] Hazard scored his first Premier League hat-trick against Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge on 8 February.[183]

On 27 April 2014, Hazard won the PFA Young Player of the Year award and finished as the runner-up to Luis Suárez for the PFA Player of the Year award for his fine attacking performances under José Mourinho.[184] In May 2014, Hazard was voted Chelsea's Player of the Year in his second season at Stamford Bridge.[185]

2014–15 season

Upon Juan Mata's departure from the club in January 2014, Hazard was handed the number 10 shirt for Chelsea ahead of the 2014–15 season.[186]

"He is our Messi because he makes the difference"

Cesc Fabregas on the 23-year old Eden Hazard, October 2014.[187]

On 5 October, he won a penalty against Arsenal after being fouled by Laurent Koscielny, and then converted it himself past Wojciech Szczęsny to open a 2–0 victory which made Chelsea the last unbeaten team in the league.[188] In doing so, Eden maintained his 100% penalty record out of 16 penalties. He also became the only player in Europe who has taken more than 15 penalties and scored all of them.[189] Due to his influential in the Blues' unbeaten start to the Premier League campaign, Eden was second in the EA Sports Player Performance Index, the official statistical analyser of the Premier League.[190]

His first goals of the Champions League campaign came on 21 October, netting from the penalty-spot and from open play in a 6–0 home win over Maribor.[191] On 5 November, away to the Slovene team, he earned an 85th-minute penalty but had it saved by Jasmin Handanović in a 1–1 draw.[192]

Hazard opened the scoring in Chelsea's 2–0 win over Hull on 13 December, with the goal being only the second headed one of his entire career.[193] The header came as a surprised for many, even Jose Mourinho; during the post-match interview Mourinho stated "That he scored in the air, I was surprised. He jumps a lot but normally he closes his eyes. So I was surprised, but very good goal."[194]

International career

Youth

Hazard has played for various Belgian national youth teams, such as the under-17 and under-19 teams. With the under-17 team, Hazard was a regular in the team making 17 appearances and scoring two goals. He played with the team in the Toto Cup, a yearly international youth tournament held in Austria and, also, played in the 2007 UEFA European Under-17 Football Championship, which Belgium hosted. In the tournament, Hazard scored his only goal in the team's opening match against the Netherlands converting a penalty in a 2–2 draw.[195] The match was a homecoming for Hazard, as it was played in Tubize, where he spent part of his youth career.[196] Throughout the tournament, Hazard impressed media and coaches, which led to many in Belgium comparing him to Belgian football legend Enzo Scifo.[197][198][199]

Belgium suffered elimination in the semi-finals of the competition, losing to Spain 7–6 on penalties. Belgium were minutes away from a victory, courtesy of an own goal from David Rochela, which Hazard was particularly instrumental in, however Barcelona striker Bojan Krkić equalized for his nation to send the match into extra time.[200] Due to finishing in third place at the tournament, Belgium qualified for the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup, held in South Korea. Hazard was selected to participate and played in all three group stage matches, where Belgium were eliminated.

After playing at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in August and September 2007, Hazard began earning call-ups to the under-19 team the following month in October. His first appearance came in a 2008 UEFA European Under-19 Football Championship qualification match against Romania coming on as a substitute in a 4–0 victory.[201] He subsequently played in the next two group stage matches against Iceland and England. Belgium lost both matches.[202][203] The negative results eliminated the country from the tournament. Due to being an underage player the previous year, Hazard was eligible for the under-19 team for the 2008–09 season. Due to his growing participation with Lille's first team, Hazard was only allowed to play in 2009 UEFA European Under-19 Football Championship qualification matches by his club and, as a result, missed the 2008 edition of the Milk Cup, which was held during Lille's preseason.

On 7 October 2008, Hazard scored his first under-19 goal in the team's 5–0 victory over Estonia.[204] Three days later, he scored a double in a 2–2 draw with Croatia.[205] In the Elite Round, Hazard led the team in goals scoring three. In the opening match against the Republic of Ireland, he scored the lone goal.[206] In the next match, Hazard was influential in the team's 5–0 thrashing of Sweden scoring a goal and assisting on two others.[207] In the team's final match, they faced Switzerland. Belgium needed an outright victory to progress to the 2009 UEFA European Under-19 Football Championship, but were eliminated from qualifying after drawing 1–1 with the Swiss, despite Hazard opening the scoring for Belgium in the 21st minute.[208]

Senior

On 18 November 2008, Hazard was called up to the Belgium senior team, for the first time, by manager René Vandereycken for the team's match against Luxembourg.[citation needed] Prior to making his national team debut with Belgium, Hazard was courted by French Football Federation officials who sought the player to play for the France national team as he had become eligible for French citizenship. Hazard did not respond to the courtship and later stated "Because of my presence in France for seven years, I feel 99% Belgian and 1% French, but the idea of French citizenship has never crossed my mind".[209]

Hazard made his highly anticipated debut for Belgium in the match against Luxembourg coming on as a substitute in the 67th minute for Wesley Sonck.[210] On his debut, Hazard became the eighth youngest player in Belgian football history at 17 years and 316 days to play for the national team.[211] On 12 August 2009, after three consecutive substitute appearances with the team, he made his first start under coach Franky Vercauteren in the team's 3–1 friendly loss to the Czech Republic.[212] Following the resignation of Vercauteren, he was replaced with manager Dick Advocaat. Under Advocaat, Hazard became a starter in the team and, on 14 November 2009, played a full match for the first time in his international career. In the match, which was played against Hungary, Hazard assisted on two goals in a 3–0 win.

In May 2010, Advocaat was replaced as manager by Georges Leekens. After featuring as a starter in Leekens first three matches in charge, Hazard began appearing as a substitute for Belgium during the 2010–11 season. Leekens justified his benching of Hazard citing the players' domestic performance, which had been underwhelming at the time, while also admitting that Hazard displayed a lack of desire in training with the national team and often neglected his defensive duties during international matches.[82][213] After appearing as a substitute in two straight matches, Hazard returned to the starting lineup for the team's November 2010 friendly match against Russia. In the match, which Belgium won 2–0, Hazard assisted on the team's opening goal scored by Romelu Lukaku.[214]

After featuring as a starter in the team's 1–1 draw with Finland in February 2011, Hazard was relegated back to the substitute's bench for the team's important March 2011 UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying matches as Leekens preferred Nacer Chadli and Mousa Dembélé on the wings.[215] In the team's 29 March qualifier against Azerbaijan, he appeared as a second-half substitute and assisted on the team's final goal in a 4–1 win.[216] Following the matches, French media began questioning why Hazard was struggling to be appreciated in his home country, while, at the same time, was being praised in France.[217] Marc Wilmots, assistant coach of the national team, responded to the media reports stating "Some people only see Eden's qualities" and "the French press are sometimes blinded by his moments of magic".[218]

In Belgium's next competitive match against Turkey on 3 June 2011, Hazard started the match, but was substituted out after 60 minutes. Disappointed with his performance and substitution, the midfielder retired to the locker room and was later spotted on television outside the stadium with his family eating a hamburger while the match was still ongoing.[219] Following the episode, which has become known as Burgergate in Belgium,[220] Hazard apologized for the defection, while Leekens attributed Hazard's response to the substitution as "a young player making a mistake".[221][222]

On 4 August, Leekens announced that Hazard would be disciplined for his actions during the Turkey match and, as a result, would miss the team's 10 August friendly match against Slovenia, as well as the team's Euro qualifying return match against Azerbaijan on 2 September and friendly against the United States four days later.[223] On 9 August, Hazard's management group issued a press release to the Belgian media. The release detailed Hazard's actions during the Turkey match, criticized the player's three-match suspension, as well as questioned Leekens constant criticism of Hazard.[224] On 25 August, it was announced that Leekens had lifted Hazard's suspension and the midfielder was subsequently named in the team to play the September fixtures.[225] Leekens decided to lift the suspension after having a meeting with Hazard that was organized by the player's agent.[226]

On 7 October 2011, nearly three years after his debut, Hazard scored his first international goal against Kazakhstan in a 4–1 victory.[227] The victory inserted Belgium into second place position in its group in qualifying for UEFA Euro 2012 with the team needing a victory over Germany on 11 October to secure a place in the qualifying playoffs.[228] In the match against Germany, Hazard played the entire match as Belgium failed to earn a place in the European Championship losing 3–1 in Düsseldorf.[229]

Hazard made nine appearances in the Red Devils' successful 2014 World Cup qualification campaign, scoring twice.[230]

On 13 May 2014, Hazard was named in Belgium's squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.[231] He assisted Dries Mertens' winning goal in the team's first game of the tournament, a 2–1 win against Algeria in Belo Horizonte.[232] In Belgium's second match, he assisted Divock Origi's 88th-minute goal, giving the Red Devils a 1–0 win over Russia and qualifying them for the knockout stage.[233]

Style of play

Hazard primarily plays as either an attacking midfielder or a winger and has been credited as being "possibly the outstanding talent in Europe right now".[234] At Lille under former manager Rudi Garcia, Hazard often played in the latter role in the team's 4–3–3 formation and regularly switched flanks because he could use both feet. Following the departures of fellow play-makers Yohan Cabaye and Gervinho in 2011, during the 2011–12 season, Garcia played Hazard as a central attacking midfielder, while also allowing the player to roam back onto the wing if necessary. Two of Hazard's most common exemplary traits are his pace and technical ability, which have been described as "astonishing" and "mesmerizing", respectively.[81]

Hazard's former teammate and Lille captain Rio Mavuba described Hazard as "a great player, with an immense talent. He’s actually not that big, but he’s so fast. He’s also very difficult to dispossess and his finishing is top notch".[81] Hazard's pace coupled with his finishing and inability to be dispossessed easily led to his former coach Claude Puel dubbing him "little Messi", in reference to the Barcelona star.[6] Puel's sentiments were later echoed by former Marseille manager and media personality Rolland Courbis who commented "At times it looks to me like Lionel Messi on the right-hand side".[77] Hazard's "flair and tricky" style of play has been described as being similar to Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo; a comparison later repeated by former French international Christophe Dugarry.[235][236] His vision, described as being the trait he has improved on the most, has allowed him to develop into an effective passer, which compensates for his relatively low goal-scoring output.[237]

Hazard taking on the Norwich City defence for Chelsea

In Belgium, Hazard's talent and similar ascension up the country's football hierarchy has led to comparisons to former Belgian international Enzo Scifo.[23][238] Both players share the same birthplace and Scifo himself spent time with Hazard while he was in Tubize admitting "Eden, you know, I've coached in Tubize. During the week, I took care of the young people at least once, and he, in those days, I immediately saw he had a secure future".[238]

However, despite the positive opinions, Hazard has endured criticism from some. His former national team coach and mentor Dick Advocaat agreed with the majority in that Hazard possessed everything required to be a world-class player, but claims a need for charisma "I told him to have more charisma. He is a talent, but he can not be seen like that forever".[239] In 2010, former Belgium national team manager Georges Leekens questioned Hazard's work-rate.[240] Lille youth academy director Jean-Michel Vandamme countered both managers criticism by arguing that Hazard simply possesses an intellectual honesty that is out of the ordinary and unexpected of today's footballer declaring "He is a real competitor, not a cheat, nor a moaner, because you don’t hear him complaining when he gets fouled".[77]

Outside football

Personal life

Hazard is married to Natacha Van Honacker. On 19 December 2010, Belgian and French media announced that she had given birth to a baby boy, Yannis. She gave birth to their second son, Leo, in February 2013.[241][242]

Sponsorship

In 2012, Hazard signed a sponsorship deal with American sportswear and equipment supplier, Nike. He appeared in an advert for the Nike Green Speed II alongside Mario Götze, Theo Walcott, Raheem Sterling, Christian Eriksen and Stephan El Shaarawy in November 2012.[243][244] Hazard features on the cover of EA Sports' FIFA 15 video game in Belgium, the UK, the Netherlands and France, along with Lionel Messi.[245]

Career statistics

Club

As of 16 December 2014.[246][247][248]
Club Season League[249] Cups[nb 1] Europe Other[nb 2] Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Lille 2007–08 4 0 0 0 4 0
2008–09 30 4 5 2 35 6
2009–10 37 5 3 1 12 4 52 10
2010–11 38 7 7 5 7 0 52 12
2011–12 38 20 4 1 6 0 1 1 49 22
Total 147 36 19 9 25 4 1 1 192 50
Chelsea 2012–13 34 9 11 3 13 1 4 0 62 13
2013–14 35 14 4 0 9 2 1 1 49 17
2014–15 16 6 3 1 4 2 21 9
Total 85 29 18 4 26 5 5 1 132 39
Career total 232 65 36 12 51 9 6 2 324 89

International

As of match played 5 July 2014.[250]
Belgium national team
Year Apps Goals
2008 1 0
2009 9 0
2010 7 0
2011 8 1
2012 8 1
2013 9 3
2014 8 1
Total 50 6

Honours

Club

Lille
Chelsea

Individual

Notes

  1. ^ Includes the FA Cup, the Football League Cup, the Coupe de France and the Coupe de la Ligue matches
  2. ^ Includes the FIFA Club World Cup, the UEFA Super Cup, the FA Community Shield and the Trophée des champions matches

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External links