Eden Hazard – “The Forbidden Fruit”
Real Madrid star Eden Hazard is one of the most fearsome players in 2020 through his skills and agility. It makes him a defender’s worst nightmare and an idol for many youngsters.
He is renowned for his dribbling, lofty passes, pace and playmaking abilities. They are all considered top-notch and send a chill down opposition defences in almost every encounter.
Nobody has worked out any tactics or formations that can detain the Belgian. The only thing that can be done is to avoid treating him like a normal player, or else suffer the consequences.
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As a result, Hazard is one of the game’s most decorated players following superb spells in France and England.
The aim for 2020 is to continue winning silverware as Real Madrid’s newest No.7.
Eden Hazard’s story began in the Walloon city of La Louvière, Belgium on January 7, 1991. He is the eldest of four children to former footballers Thierry and Carine, who were also PE teachers.
His three brothers Thorgan, Kylian and Ethan are all professional players as well.
The Belgian started playing football aged four in his childhood home with his father and brothers. Not long afterwards, he joined hometown club Royal Stade Brainois.
While playing for Royal Stade Brainois wasn’t much, it allowed Hazard the opportunity to develop over the next eight years. Locals soon took notice and cheered on the talented lad. They knew something special was on the horizon, even if they didn’t fully understand it.
Hazard later joined another Belgian club in Tubize, where he was first discovered by Lille scouts. Aware of his potential, they immediately signed him to the club’s youth academy following a meeting with Thierry.
Moving to France, though, presented a new challenge for a 14-year-old Eden in leaving home for the first time. It was a growing experience but saw him lose none of his confidence or swagger.
“He told me: ‘I am going to play for Lille. I will make the fans happy. I will win one title. After that, I will leave,’” said academy manager Jean-Michel Vandamme on his first meeting with Hazard.
A 16-year-old Hazard signed his first professional contract in May 2007 and went into the reserve team. Then six months later, Claude Puel gave him his senior debut against Bruges as a substitute. He impressed immediately, which led to further opportunities.
By the 2008/09 season, Hazard was a fully-fledged member of the first-team squad and became Lille’s youngest goalscorer on route to a solid fifth-place finish in Ligue 1.
His breakthrough form also saw him become the first foreigner to Ligue 1’s Young Player of the Year. An outstanding achievement, which caught the interest of French football fans and his idol Zinedine Zidane.
The Frenchman praised a teenage Hazard and urged Real Madrid president Florentino Perez to sign him.
“I would take Hazard to Madrid with my eyes closed,” said Zidane.
Another Young Player of the Year award followed before Eden helped Lille win a double in 2010/11. He finally delivered on his promise of a title to Vandamme and did so in emphatic fashion.
After a difficult start, Hazard recovered stronger than ever and paired up well with Gervinho in the attack. Then came that magnificent 35-yard strike in a 2-1 win over title rivals Marseille in March 2011. Not only was it a cracker, but it set Lille up for a first Ligue 1 title in 57 years.
After becoming the youngest player to win back-to-back Ligue 1 Player of the Year awards in 2012, it was time to leave Lille. Therefore, Eden Hazard to Champions League winners Chelsea that summer.
He spent the next seven years of his career developing into one of the world’s best players in London. Two Premier League titles, two Europa Leagues, one EFL Cup and an FA Cup were all won.
While his brilliance, scoring prowess and creativity led him to many individual honours. Among them were the PFA Player of the Year and the FWA Footballer of the Year from the 2014/15 campaign. But his true legacy was in delivering on the big occasions for Chelsea.
The day Eden scored that winner against Crystal Palace in March 2015 won them the Premier League title. An unforgettable moment, and the foundation towards the winger’s legacy at Stamford Bridge.
His famous equaliser against Tottenham a year officially handed Leicester City the league title.
Hazard later inspired Chelsea to another Premier League title in 2017/18 under Antonio Conte. He then scored the winner against Manchester United to win his first FA Cup the following season.
But the Belgian saved the best for last by leading Chelsea to a 4-1 win over Arsenal in the . Aware that it was possibly his final game, he spared nothing on route to a brace. It was a typically classy display from Hazard and a perfect way to end his Blues career.
“Hazard is the most skilful player to have played for Chelsea,” said former Blues midfielder Pat Nevin.
“That’s saying something because look at the quality of players that they’ve had. He’s astonishing.
“Frank Lampard may have had a better impact – but for pure skill, Hazard is world-class.”
After a brilliant seven-year stay in London, Eden Hazard made a €100m transfer to Real Madrid in the summer of 2019.
The 29-year-old’s childhood dream of playing for Los Blancos finally came true despite a long wait. He never lost faith and was delighted to link-up with Zidane, who returned as head coach earlier in the year.
“Everyone knows that Zidane was my idol and now he’s my coach, he’s been an important factor. But I’ve always wanted to play for this club,” said Hazard.
, which Real Madrid legends Cristiano Ronaldo and Raul Gonzalez had previously worn. Naturally, this only fueled expectations ahead of his debut campaign.
Although fitness and injury problems have caused Hazard to miss a big chunk of the 2019/20 campaign. There is still plenty to fight for when he returns, however, in La Liga and the Champions League.
While the upcoming Euro 2020 tournament presents Hazard a chance to win silverware for Belgium. He’s come close on a few occasions, with his closest ending in a third-place finish in the 2018 World Cup. Thus, he’ll need regular minutes at Real Madrid to regain his full fitness before the summer.
So 2020 could yet be the greatest year of Eden Hazard’s career.