In part two of our exclusive interview with Eden Hazard, the winger discusses becoming an example to our younger players and his aims for next season...
When we spoke to the Player of the Year, in the foyer of the hotel in Sydney where the players stayed during the second part of our post-season trip, Australian fans were camped outside hoping to catch a glimpse of their heroes.
On arrival in the country, as was the case in Thailand, the players were greeted by thousands of Chelsea supporters, and Hazard proved hugely popular with the locals.
That, off the back of the season he’s just had, isn’t surprising, but the Belgian’s continual desire to improve means he is already thinking about ways to perform to an even higher level next season.
‘I want to score more goals,’ he responded, when asked which area of his game he would like to develop.
‘I scored 19 this season, the season before I scored 16, so 19 is good, especially as I’m not a pure striker, I’m a winger.
‘But the fans always want me to score. I work hard on that in training but it’s not easy. It would be nice if I could maybe get 25 goals next season.’
In Thailand and Australia, a number of the younger players from our Academy were given the opportunity to impress. Hazard, quckly becoming one of the senior figures in the team, says he enjoys being someone of the youngsters now seek out for advice or encouragement, particularly as he was in a similar position to them not so long ago.
‘When I was young and I started to train with the first team it was a good feeling,’ recalled the Belgian.
‘Now I have to try to help the younger players, even though I’m still only young myself, I’m just 24. I don’t know if they see me as a big brother, but it’s good if I can help when they ask for advice.
‘Of course they feel a bit scared because it’s not easy as a youngster playing with big players, I was the same, but on the pitch is where it matters. If they are good on the pitch it’s easy for them to settle in.’
One of the young players brought into the first team squad for the trip was Hazard’s compatriot Charly Musonda, who enjoyed a notable campaign for our Academy teams, both individually and collectively, and the winger says they have a close relationship off the pitch.
‘He’s Belgian like me and I need to help him. I watched his dad (Charly Senior, who played for many years at Anderlecht) on the television when I was young. We spend a lot of time together off the pitch, he comes to my house or I go to his.
‘He’s a very good player, very small but he has a lot of quality. He played 45 minutes in Thailand and a few minutes against Sydney and he did very well.’
Following this weekend's international match, Hazard will join other players already recharging their batteries over the summer following an intense campaign, before returning for the start of pre-season training in the middle of July.
He is already setting his sights on helping the Blues achieve further success.
‘We need to keep the two trophies we won this season and hopefully add another cup, it would be good to win everything,’ he said.
‘The only bad thing about this season was the PSG game; when you are playing with 11 men against ten you shouldn’t lose. Even though we didn’t lose the game, 2-2 wasn’t good enough, so it would be good to go far in the Champions League.
‘It will be a big challenge to retain the Premier League next season. Every team wants to beat the champions. They will come to Stamford Bridge and try to do whatever they can to beat us, so we have to be ready.’
Soon it will be time to rest, and those Chelsea supporters who have been thrilled by Hazard’s performances over the course of the season certainly won’t begrudge him a few weeks with his feet up in the sun.
‘I will go on holiday, spend time with my family and forget about football. One month is enough to disconnect from the game so I will just be with my kids and my wife.’