10

Eden Hazard

BIOGRAPHY

Eden Hazard agreed terms to sign for Chelsea in June 2012 from French club Lille, where he had played since 2005, and he became the fourth Belgian to join the club following the arrivals of Thibaut Courtois, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne.

A double player of the year in France’s Ligue 1, and one of the most highly-coveted players in Europe at the time he joined the Blues, expectations were understandably high for Hazard’s first season in London. A nomination for the PFA Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year award, as well as a place in the Premier League Team of the Season, showed he had matched those expectations, and more.

Quick, direct and skilful, Hazard is at his best running at defenders. Equally adept with either foot, the Belgian’s close control while carrying the ball at speed gives him regular scoring and creating opportunities, as demonstrated by his 13 goals and 25 assists in the 2012/13 campaign.

His second season at the Bridge was even more successful as he finished as the club's top scorer and won the club's Player of the Year award, as well as the PFA Young Player of the Year award. Matters got even better in a spectacular third year which ended with five high-profile individual accolades, the Premier League title and the Capital One Cup. The 2015/16 season fared less well but the Belgian was back to his best in 2016/17, again named Chelsea Player of the Year as he inspired to team to another league title.

Hazard is well-established as one of the stars of the Premier League and he captains his national side.
 

2012/13

On his Premier League debut, Hazard created two goals in the first six minutes of a scintillating display against Wigan Athletic, first releasing Branislav Ivanovic with a defence-splitting pass, and then drawing a foul to win a penalty converted by Frank Lampard.

He followed that up in our next game - a 4-2 win at home to Reading - by winning a penalty which Lampard again despatched to break the deadlock, before laying on the fourth for Ivanovic.

He scored his first Chelsea goal three days later from the penalty spot in a 2-0 win against Newcastle United, while his first strike from open play came in a 4-1 win against Norwich City, finishing off a quick counter-attack by scoring from Juan Mata's pass. Two weeks later, in a game against Spurs, the roles were reversed as Hazard’s defence-splitting first-time pass on the spin set up Mata to score.

Spectacular goals followed, namely in an 8-0 rout of Aston Villa before Christmas, and an impressive victory at Stoke in the new year.

Hazard received his first red card as a Chelsea player in a Capital One Cup semi-final second leg against Swansea City following an altercation with a ball boy. The subesquent three-game suspension appeared to galvanise him, however, as he found his most productive form on his return.

A scintillating second-half performance in a Europa League home leg game against Sparta Prague was capped by a stunning injury-time strike that ensured our progression to the last 16.

After coming off the bench to inspire a second-half comeback in an FA Cup tie at Manchester United, Hazard popped up with another goal of the season contender against West Ham United.

His individual form as the season drew to a close was outstanding, and one of the main reasons for our strong finish to the campaign.

Sadly, however, after laying on a history-making goal for Lampard in our penultimate league game at Aston Villa, Hazard sustained a hamstring injury which ruled him out of the Europa League final, but that could not stop it being a maiden season to remember for the winger.
 

2013/14

Hazard began his second season well, scoring the second of our two goals in the 2013 UEFA Super Cup against Bayern Munich in Prague.

A spurt of five goals in six games in October and early November suggested Hazard had well and truly settled into life under new manager Jose Mourinho. The Belgian’s performance in a 4-3 win at Sunderland in December, which included two memorable individual strikes and an assist, was hailed by managers, peers and pundits as one of the finest of the year.

It was a streak that continued into 2014 after ending 2013 with crucial strikes against Swansea and Liverpool, and he scored again in Hull, before netting his first Chelsea hat-trick against Newcastle following an imperious display in a 1-0 away win at Manchester City.

Hazard’s form had made him indispensable to Mourinho, and it was because of this that Mata was allowed to depart for Manchester United in the January transfer window.

His creativity helped Andre Schurrle to a hat-trick at Fulham as we kept our place atop the Premier League at the beginning of March. He netted cool penalties in home routs of London rivals Tottenham and Arsenal that month, and proved similarly clinical from the spot in Europe, scoring a crucial away goal in Paris.

 

Hazard ended a fine second season in west London by winning the club's Player of the Year award for the first time. Blues fans had taken note of his importance to the side. 2

photo of Milestone Milestone

Hazard ended a fine second season in west London by winning the club's Player of the Year award for the first time. Blues fans had taken note of his importance to the side.
 

2014/15

No Chelsea player has ever received as many individual accolades in a single season as the mercurial Hazard did in 2014/15.

Satisfyingly, there was collective triumph to go with those personal honours as we won both the Premier League and the League Cup. Hazard’s form never dipped below outstanding.

He started all but five of our 54 games in all competitions and was rarely taken off by Mourinho such was his potentially decisive impact from first minute to last.

Hazard netted his first goal of his third season in west London in a 2-0 home win against Leicester, and in the next game he helped force an own goal from Seamus Coleman in a high-scoring victory at Everton. His performance in our fourth consecutive success of a strong start to the season, against Swansea, earned praise from Mourinho afterwards, who highlighted the winger's consistency over the whole game even when things were not going well for the team.

It was a facet of his game the manager cited throughout the season as one Hazard had worked hard at improving. He, and his team-mates, reaped the benefits.

Never out of the league starting XI, Hazard continued to shine as 2014 drew to a close, scoring against Hull, Derby and Southampton. He began the new year in style, too, our outstanding player in an otherwise disappointing 5-3 defeat to Tottenham in which he fired home a fine left-footed finish and also played a key part in our other two goals that day.

Hazard signed a new five-and-a-half year contract at Stamford Bridge in February 2015 and played the full 90 minutes of our Capital One Cup triumph over Tottenham that month.

As our style of play became more pragmatic as injuries and suspensions set in, it was often Hazard who provided the spark. Four consecutive away wins between February and April were to prove crucial; Hazard scored in the first three, at Villa, West Ham and Hull, and created Cesc Fabregas’s pivotal late winner at QPR. It defined the pair’s glorious link-up play all campaign.

A week after that victory at Loftus Road, Hazard scored the only goal of the game as we beat a resurgent Manchester United at Stamford Bridge. Shortly after, he was named PFA Player of the Year, the first of four major individual prizes he would pick up. He was unsurprisingly voted into the PFA Team of the Season, too.

Fittingly, it was Hazard that netted the title-clinching goal against Crystal Palace, converting the rebound after his penalty had been saved.

The individual awards kept coming. The Football Writers’ Association voted him their Footballer of the Year, and he was also named the Premier League Player of the Year.

At our end-of-season awards ceremony, Hazard was voted the Player of the Year for the second season running, and his contribution was acknowledged by his peers, too, as he won the Players’ Player of the Year prize.

It was the perfect end to a near-enough perfect season.
 

2015/16

The momentous 2014/15 season proved a hard one to follow for Hazard whose goal touch and influential form did not return until the final weeks of the next campaign.

Lingering injury problems were a major factor, especially a hip injury sustained in Jose Mourinho's final game in charge at Leicester in December 2015. It was only overcome when Guus Hiddink decided on a six-week recuperation out of the team after a Champions League exit in March.

Having missed two penalties earlier in the season (one a shoot-out decider in a League Cup game at Stoke), Hazard's first goal of the season (and his 50th for Chelsea - the eighth overseas player to reach that milestone) was from the spot in an FA Cup win at MK Dons in January. He scored again in the Cup at home to Man City with a free-kick, with the wait for his first open-play and Premier League goals ending with a brace in an impressive win at Bournemouth in April on his return to the team. His 200th appearance for the club had come in a home game against Stoke in March.

He truly announced his return to his best the next game with an outstanding second-half display and Chelsea Goal of the Season winner against Spurs, a strike that ended our London rivals' title hopes by handing it to Leicester. Another special goal at Anfield would follow before the end of the campaign.
 

2016/17

Hazard's good form continued as life under Antonio Conte began, and he benefited from his role in attack in the 3-4-3 shape introduced by the Italian in October 2016 by scoring in three consecutive Premier League games for the first time. He was voted PFA Fans' Premier League best player for that month and was also named Premier League Player of the Month for the first time.

He made his 150th Premier League appearance away at Middlesbrough in November 2016 and on Boxing Day at home to Bournemouth from the penalty spot, netted his 50th Chelsea goal.

His 51st was one of the very best. Picking the ball up in the centre-circle, the Belgian embarked on a run that bamboozled Arsenal. He lifted the ball over Petr Cech to make it 2-0 in what was eventually a 3-1 win. It was awarded Premier League Goal of the Month for February 2017 and the Chelsea Goal of the Season.

Hazard was superb as we closed in on the title, scoring both goals in a 2-1 win over Manchester City, as well as important strikes against Bournemouth and Southampton. His impact was not only restricted to the Premier League, though, and the Belgian fired home a superb goal - his first at Wembley - in our 4-2 FA Cup semi-final win over Tottenham.

Unfortunately the final against Arsenal was lost but by then Hazard had his second Premier League winners' medal and the day after Wembley he was named Chelsea Player of the Year, only the second in our history after Frank Lampard to collect the accolade three times. A very good season was followed by a setback however. In early June 2017 while training with the Belgium squad, he sustained a fracture to his right ankle with the initial estimate for a return to training set at three months.


2017/18

Hazard’s recovery from injury kept him out of the first month of Chelsea’s season and his return, away at Leicester, was his 250th appearance for the club. It took him until mid-October to start scoring again but he was soon back to his best, often making the crucial difference and picking up man-of-the-match awards.

His deployment on the field varied. In autumn he successfully linked as a front pairing with Alvaro Morata, who supplied an outrageous assist for one of Hazard’s two goals at West Brom. He was later the central attacker himself on occasions when no centre-forward was in the team and was also used in his more regular wide position.

Two goals at home to Newcastle in early December moved him equal with Gianfranco Zola with 80 goals for the Blues, although Hazard reached the figure in 45 fewer games. At Brighton he notched his 100th career league goal for Lille and Chelsea combined, and his form, and some fantastic goals, shone brightest for the club in the early weeks of 2018.

He saved his most telling contribution of the campaign for last. In the FA Cup final at Wembley, it was Hazard's touch, skill and speed that forced Phil Jones to foul him as he bore down on goal. The Belgian picked himself up, dusted himself down and coolly converted the spot-kick. It proved the only goal as Hazard helped run the game down in the attacking third, in the process securing his maiden FA Cup title on the occasion of his 300th Chelsea appearance. 
 

 

Pre-Chelsea

Born on 7 January 1991 in La Louviere, Belgium, both of Hazard's parents played football at a professional level.

After a youth career which saw him play for both Royal Stade Brainois and Tubize, he made the switch to Lille back in 2005.

Two years later, during the 2007/08 season, he made a handful of substitute appearances, before the following campaign saw him really make his mark and become a first team regular, earning him international recognition and the Young Player of the Year award at only 17 years old.

The 2009/10 season saw him shine once again, ensuring he was crowned Young Player of the Year for the second successive season, while also being named in the Ligue 1 Team of the Year.

The 2010/11 campaign was arguably his most memorable in a Lille shirt, although it didn't start well. Hazard was publicly criticised by Belgium coach Georges Leekens before being dropped for Lille and failing to start a game for two months.

However, after forcing his way back into the side, he played an integral role in inspiring the team to a league and cup double, while also being crowned Player of the Year.

Glowing references from the likes of Zinedine Zidane only served to enhance his stock, and it was almost inevitable that one day the biggest clubs in Europe would come calling.

During his final season at Lille, when he was a team-mate of Joe Cole, he scored 21 goals in 48 games and made 18 assists, as the club finished third behind Montpellier and Paris St-Germain to make the Champions League qualifying rounds.

He signed off in style after being handed the captain's armband for his final game for Lille, scoring a memorable hat-trick against Nancy in a devastating first-half display. For the fourth consecutive year his performances were acknowledged at France’s annual end of season awards do, again claiming the Player of the Year gong.

International

Hazard made his Belgium international debut as a 17-year-old in a game against Luxembourg in November 2008, coming on as a late substitute.

He made his full debut nine months later against a Czech Republic side captained by Petr Cech and soon established himself as a first-choice regular for his national team.

A first goal at international level arrived in October 2011, though a clearly talented Belgian squad fell short of qualifying for Euro 2012.

Two days before his move to Stamford Bridge was confirmed, Hazard and Belgium played against England at Wembley in a 1-0 loss, the winger impressing with his pace and trickery.

Hazard featured in nine of Belgium’s 10 World Cup qualification matches as they booked their place at a major tournament for the first time since 2002.

Hazard started all of Belgium's matches in Brazil as they reached the quarter-finals of the competition, but failed to have the kind of positive impact he would have hoped for.

A brilliant run and pass in their opening game, however, allowed Dries Mertens to score in a 2-1 win against Algeria.

Belgium won all three of their group games before overcoming USA in the Second Round. They were eventually eliminated by Argentina, a game which saw Hazard substituted in the closing stages.

Having captained his country in odd games in the absence of Vincent Kompany, Hazard led his nation into the Euro 2016 tournament in France when the Manchester City defender was ruled out with injury. In a Round of 16 knockout stage game against Hungary, the captain produced what many rated the performance of the tournament up to that point, scoring a great goal shortly after creating one and shining throughout a 4-0 win.

He and Courtois were Chelsea's sole representatives in the quarter-finals but Belgium fell well short despite taking the lead against Wales through a Hazard-assisted goal. A 3-1 defeat ended their tournament.

Hazard continued to captain Belgium as the qualification campaign for the 2018 World Cup commenced although he missed the internationals in the summer of 2017 due to an ankle fracture suffered while training for his country.

He made his return to football with Belgian before playing for Chelsea again, scoring in a friendly against Gibraltar before, at the start of September 2017, helping his nation become the first European nation to qualify for the following summer's World Cup by beating Greece.

Hazard enjoyed a superb campaign as he captained Belgium to the semi-finals. The Chelsea attacker started every game, apart from their group-stage fixture against England, when they had already secured qualification to the knockout rounds.

Hazard netted a brace in Belgium's 5-2 win over Tunisia but perhaps his standout moment of the tournament was his display in the quarter-final victory over Brazil, when he was outstanding.

Hazard then caused England all manner of problems in the third-place play-off, a game which ended 2-0 to Belgium, Hazard scoring their second goal with a smart finish.

He picked up the Silver Ball award at the end of the competition, which is given to the second-best performer overall.