After leading Chelsea to the 2014/15 Premier League season, there was little doubt left in anyone's mind that Eden Hazard was the best player in the league. Some though that his development would have him seeking a high profile move to Real Madrid (and a reunion with The Interim One), but after reading his most recent comments, it's hard to come away believing Hazard would be the sort to leave Chelsea as long as things continue to go well.
Hazard spoke about the need to keep his private life private, as well as sharing quite a bit of praise about Chelsea's all-time leading scorer, Frank Lampard:
"I’m not the type of player to look for photo opportunities and things like that. It’s very important to keep your life private and that’s what I have always tried to do. I don’t like going out, I feel happier at home. It’s a life choice. Obviously I go out occasionally for a meal with my friends, but if you have everything you want at home, why go looking elsewhere?"
"If people focus on me more now after what has happened this season, I will just stay at home even more and there will be even less to say about me. I want everyone to have a good image of me, not just the Chelsea fans, everyone throughout the football world. In a similar style to how Frank Lampard is viewed. He is respected by everyone, I want that and to have a good clean image."
"You can’t help but learn from having players like Frank around you when you’re training and playing alongside him every day. I remember my very first training session with the club and we had a break and Frank said: ‘Can I get you some water, do you want a drink?’ It was incredible. "As the new guy I felt like I should have been the one to be getting Frank, who has won so many trophies, water. But that is what he was like."
"Having the chance to spend two seasons alongside him, you just learn what an exemplary player and professional he is. You got the feeling that this was a player respected by everybody and everywhere — not just in the club but outside too."
"I watched how hard Frank was working at training despite having won so much already (11 major trophies with Chelsea in all) and knew I had to do the same. As a youngster you can’t help but be inspired by people like Frank. He sustained his career at the highest level till the age of 36 and that is not for any reason."
"He worked hard at his game physically and technically. I don’t know if I will get to play until that age, I certainly want to. But I know I will have to work damn hard to do that."
It's hard to read comments like those, and feel anything but fond memories about players like Lampard, John Terry, and the soon-to-be-departed pair of Petr Cech and Didier Drogba. While age catches up to everyone eventually, that group has been sensational for the Blues, not only on the pitch, but in helping to groom their eventual replacements.
Here's hoping that eventually, we'll be hearing about another fantastic young player praising Hazard's influence on him at Chelsea.