Often derided for having just a bit too much carefree attitude, Eden Hazard is slowly growing into a leadership role both at Chelsea and for the Belgian national team. In fact, just ahead of their game on Wednesday, Hazard was seemingly made the permanent Belgium captain by manager Roberto Martinez, as he kept the armband even with the return of Vincent Kompany from injury.
Hazard is still quick to credit Kompany of course as the vocal leader, though the Manchester City defender's continuing injury issues do reduce his impact on the squad.
"I like to wear the band, but Vincent still our captain. That band is not important to me. I play without that tape, then I will do my best as hard. I try to take my responsibilities in the field, even though I do not talk so much."
"Everyone knows the role of Vincent in our squad. He talks a lot, everybody listens to him and he remains our captain. Hopefully for him and for us he is quite fit again quickly. The Red Devils are anyway much stronger with Vincent Kompany at the top level."
-Eden Hazard; source: Sporza via Google Translate
Hazard was made the Belgium vice-captain in the summer of 2015 but with Kompany missing plenty of time, has been the de facto captain just about ever since. He led Belgium to the quarterfinals of Euro 2016 and has been a man reborn, especially as of late, with the switch to Conte's 3-4-3.
With the Chelsea squad full of vocal leaders once again — in addition to club captain Terry, Ivanovic, Mikel serve as captains for their national teams, while the likes of Cahill, David Luiz, Begovic, and Fabregas have at times worn the armband on the international stage as well — Hazard's quiet, on-pitch style complements the overall picture quite well.
"It's good for me to be the captain. But I can't be like John Terry. As captain, I don't talk too much. I try to talk with my feet on the pitch."
"My ambition is to lead Belgium to the World Cup, to win something for the country. I hope we can do it but it's still far away."
-Eden Hazard; source: Evening Standard
Hazard has talked about his quiet leadership style before, soon after the then-Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho tipped him as the future captain. "I think he can be a leader. His ambition is coming," said Mourinho before both he and Hazard embarked on a most disastrous of campaigns. Now, a year later, those prognostications are starting to come true.