A new page has been turned. This Tuesday, Eden Hazard put an end to his football career. Despite being only 32 years old, the player who has been out of contract since June has decided to retire from the pitch to “enjoy family and friends and live new experiences”.
He leaves behind a beautiful career, full of ups and downs, an important image as captain, and the memory of some remarkable dribbles.
“The greatest talent to come out of Lille”
Coming from a family of footballers, it was only natural that Hazard chose this path from a very early age. Trained first at RS Braine and then at AFC Tubize, he caught the eye of Lille’s scouts and completed his training at the French club in 2005. A singular and magnificent winger, who took his first steps – and precocious – at the age of 16, scoring a goal against Auxerre a year later. The 2008/2009 season was so successful that he won the trophy for best young player of the year.
With the Great Danes, Hazard was like a fish in water. He played with pleasure and determination on the left flank and remained there until 2012, even winning the French title in 2011. He also played in the Europa League with the club and stood out for his decisive goals, notably against Liverpool in 2010.
A reference player until his departure, he was a great success in the team from the north of France. Once again awarded with awards such as the best player of the year, his left foot was the envy of many in France and on the European scene. It was time to say goodbye to Ligue 1 and discover the Premier League.
His mark is indelible, and the club has made him one of its emblematic figures, duly thanking him after the announcement of his retirement.
“Eden Hazard’s professional career is coming to an end, but his achievements will live forever in our memories. A prodigy whose face is engraved at the entrance to the Domaine de Luchin, the greatest talent to come out of the LOSC. Thank you, Eden, we love you,” reads Lille’s Twitter account
The mark left on Chelsea
Hazard enjoyed immediate success with Chelsea. At the peak of his fitness and with a quick adaptation to his new team, Hazard began to make a name for himself in England. It was a godsend for Roberto Di Matteo and a great story for the Belgian.
Confirmation came over the next two years. Chelsea were at the height of their glory, and the team’s technical leader had something to do with it. During the 2014/2015 season, not only was he nominated for the Ballon d’Or, but he also scored 14 goals and provided 10 assists in the league. As captain of the Stamford Bridge team, he led it against all odds, despite the lack of great performances in the Champions League.
“He was able to win games on his own,” Juan Mata commented in 2020.
“I loved playing with him and against him. He was the best player in the Premier League,” he added.
But as the years passed, Hazard lost his breath and felt the need for a change of scenery. After two poor seasons, he finally completed his cycle at Chelsea with the conquest of the Europa League (2018/2019). Adored by fans and teammates alike, he became one of the club’s legends (110 goals in 8 years), the one you can easily talk about when you look back on the 2010s.
The beloved captain of Belgium
When talking about the Belgian national team, Eden Hazard is one of the names that immediately comes to mind. Iconic captain of the Red Devils, the winger spent 12 years with his country’s senior national team and led Belgium to the top of international football. However, they have never managed to go beyond the semi-finals of a World Cup or the quarter-finals of a European Championship.
A ubiquitous presence on the pitch since 2016, alongside his compatriots, the Belgian picked up the ball, directed it, provoked it, and left his mark. A true leader, he once again became the national team player. His greatest achievement was at the 2018 World Cup, where he had an excellent game in the quarter-finals against Brazil (2-1 win). Compared to Zinedine Zidane by some journalists at the time and considered the second-best player in the competition after Luka Modric, he was disappointed against France and had to say goodbye to any hope of winning a World Cup.
The rest of his career and his turn to a darker era determined the end of his time with the national team. However, he revolutionized the national team, scoring 33 goals in 126 games.
Decreasing at the end of the career
In 2019, Eden Hazard joined Real Madrid, for a transfer of more than 100 million euros, and a salary of more than 20 million euros per season. The party was complete, and the football world went crazy. On the left, the winger should help solve the Merengues’ offensive problems. However, the dream quickly turned into a nightmare for the Belgian. After arriving in poor form, the player suffered several injuries during the first season and was unable to play regularly.
The rest of his time in Spain was no more glorious. Unable to recover, he sank deeper and deeper into irregularity and physical problems. Despite being passed over by Carlo Ancelotti in favor of Vinicius Jr in 2021, he continued to boast the title of Champions League winner. Something you’ve always dreamed of.
Still little used last season by Ancelotti, Hazard ended his contract in June 2023. The last game he played was against Getafe, on May 15 (1-0).
For many, however, Hazard will forever be one of the best players of the 2010s and a legend of the sport.
“What a talent and what a career. It’s been a pleasure to play with you and you’re a great man in every way,” said Franck Lampard.
Hazard also received praise from Thierry Henry on Monday before his retirement was announced.
“The player I’ve preferred to see play in recent years has been Eden Hazard. He was… Wow! An instinctive player!”, said the now coach.