Eden Hazard: A True Legend of the Game

You probably remember the saying “whatsoever you find yourself doing, do it well”. Well, Eden Michael Walter Hazard is most probably one of the footballers who we can claim to have a wonderful and satisfying football career. Save for his time in Real Madrid where injuries took a toll on his performance, Hazard was a lethal finisher, a prolific goal scorer and a very brilliant dribbler. He is undoubtedly one of the arguably one of the Premier League’s greatest players of all time.

  On the 10th of October 2023, the Belgian footballer announced his retirement on his Instagram handle. “You should listen to yourself and say stop at the right time, after 16 years and more than 700 matches played, I have decided to end my career as a professional footballer” he wrote.  There are many speculations as to why the Belgian retired early with the most popular of them being his recurring injuries while at Real Madrid and his inability to get to full fitness.

Hazard started his professional football career at Lille, in Ligue 1 aged only 16. He scored 48 goals in total for the club, winning the Ligue 1 title while playing a starring role in his penultimate season at the club. They were able to hold onto him for one more season but with how his star was rising it was only a matter of time before he earned himself a move to a bigger club.

He moved to Chelsea in June 2012. At Chelsea, Eden Hazard cemented himself as a football legend. He played as a winger and made himself a vital player for the club. He was most dangerous carrying the ball forward, he played the ball with ingenuity, his footwork and his intelligent turns around defenders were excellent, his dribbles were brilliant and his passes were nothing short of beautiful. He was so beautiful to watch, and the ball always seemed to be stuck to his leg. He was the bane of many defenders. From his memorable goal against Arsenal where he turned Coquelin inside out, to ending Tottenham’s title hopes, Hazard gave Premier League fans so many memorable moments. He spent about 7 years in Chelsea, a time when he established himself as one of the very best in the Premier League and the world at large. Hazard won many trophies for Chelsea. He won the UEFA Europa League in his first and last seasons at Chelsea.  He also helped Chelsea to many other titles including one FA Cup and League Cup and the English Premier League (2x) title to mention just a few. The only thing he failed to win with them was the Champions League. Hazard received several individual awards. He was the Player of the Year for four years at Chelsea. His success on the pitch and his scintillating dribbling skills put him in the favor of the fans. You could ask random people what footballer they’d be if they had the chance to be one for a day and a good number would say Hazard.

Hazard’s performances at Chelsea earned him his long-coveted move to Real Madrid in 2019 for €100 million. However, although he won some trophies, including the elusive Champions League trophy, with Real Madrid, his role was that of a fringe player. Owing largely to the injuries he suffered, Hazard would not be able to live up to his former glory. Barely spending four years with the club, he left in a free transfer in June 2023 with a measly 4 league goals in 54 league matches. Not so long after that, he announced his retirement.

Even after his statement, speculations and debates continue to rise as to why the Belgian retired particularly because he seemed to have retired so early. Hazard can look back on what is a dream career for most footballers. We can only wonder what could have been, had he been fit during his time at Madrid.

Isaac Farinde

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