It can be hard to truly appreciate greatness in the moment it happens. Only after the fact do we often reflect and properly evaluate what we may have seen or experienced. And when we look back at Chelsea Football Club’s past decade, it becomes increasingly clear how lucky and privileged we were to witness the best of Eden Hazard.
And because of that greatness and because of the love born of that greatness, we were able to let Eden go in 2019, let him fulfill a childhood dream after realizing many of our own dreams.
And no doubt we’ve shared at least a little piece of his 3.5 years of personal horror since then.
Eden’s Real Madrid dream has been nothing short of an absolute nightmare, from almost day one to today. He started just 42 games in those 42 months, scoring just 7 goals, while dealing with a constant stream of injuries, surgeries and various fitness and form issues. And last year, even when he was healthy, he wasn’t an automatic choice – in fact, he sat on the bench for 11 of Real’s 14 league games this season, with three appearances on the bench and none since mid-September.
Entering the final 18 months of his contract, Eden is ready to admit defeat, ready to leave if the club wants him, ready to get back in the game, ready to have fun again. (Though he adds that he hasn’t had any calls from Chelsea since he left, so let’s not worry about those inevitable but highly unlikely rumours.)
“Being a Real Madrid player was my dream as a child and after this year I have another season on my contract. I want to play for this club, in this shirt.
“[But] in the summer I am likely to go. I still have one year left on my contract and it’s the club’s decision. If the club says to me ‘Eden, thanks for four years, but you have to go’, I have to accept it because it’s normal. But I would like to play more, show more that I can play, that I am a good player.”
Hazard’s fitness issues were not entirely surprising given the emphasis on fun and the emphasis of his Premier League opponents on trying to ruin that fun by any means, legal or illegal, necessary. And he tried to change what he has in his control, but fate conspired against him in a big way since he went to Madrid.
“In ten years [including] at Chelsea I played 500 games without injuries or anything, and then in two years all these injuries… It’s something I can’t explain. […] I have changed many things. [Gym and] food too.”
“I played a lot of games in ten years, seven in the Premier League with a lot of kicking. There are times in life when you’re a little down on your luck with a game, an injury… and you have to figure out your lifestyle. You can change things in life, but I think a lot of it was down to bad luck, a little because of the coronavirus, a little because of the confinement…
Whatever the reason, there’s no point getting into it. I dont regret! But Eden feels he has something to prove and hopes to prove it on the world’s biggest stage as he captains Belgium at the 2022 World Cup, the final hurray for their Golden Generation.
“I have to prove to everyone that I can play football. People have doubts about what I can do, but I don’t. […] I’m a gamer who hasn’t played many games in three years. I can understand that. I have to show when I play, whether it’s five, ten or 15 minutes. I want to play and when I do I have to do it well.”
– Eden Hazard source: Marca
Good luck, Legend!