Eden Hazard has been laying low for most of the season, out of the spotlight both in terms of his performances on the pitch and his media interactions off of it. Perhaps as a sign of his seemingly recovering fitness, confidence, and skills, he's been talking a bit more, including this great interview that's popping up across various outlets in the English media. I recommend you read the Guardian's version, from which I've picked out a few choice quotes. Do make sure to the rest.
On injury issues and his major struggles this year, which were just about the first significant ones of his career...
"This is the first time this has happened to me, but it was always going to happen at some stage. You have to learn from it. I'm a human being, not a machine. I've been a professional since I was 16, so maybe that has had an influence too."
"This is my fourth year in English football so, maybe, a spell like this was always on the cards. Maybe I should have seen it coming. It's been an accumulation of things: a bit of tiredness, a bit of this, a bit of that. I'm not looking for excuses. And it's been an important period in my development. I've learned from it. Like with the injuries. I've been used to the kicks, they're normal. I know how to protect myself. I've learned that over the years, but I'd hardly experienced this number of little injuries before, and it's about learning if you are rushing back too early, or if you're properly fit and ready to come back."
"Actually, if you look at what happened [against Leicester City] it wasn't a particularly hefty kick [from Vardy], but my body was tired. In that situation it only takes a little kick to put you out, and it's not normal to take one on the hip. I tried to come back on to the pitch, but with my first sprint I knew I couldn't move properly. If I can't play at 100%, I give up my place to someone who can. The pain was there for a few days afterwards and I couldn't play."
On feeling guilty for Chelsea's results and Jose Mourinho's fate this season...
"I sent him the message to say I was sorry he had gone and ... well ... just that I was sorry. We'd enjoyed all that success together last season, but this time round we hadn't. I felt a little bit guilty because I'd been player of the year. I'd been one of the most decisive players, and this year I'd performed less well."
"I hadn't been at the same level. So I sent that text to José and he came back to me, wishing me all the best for the future. For a team of champions to go through what we have this year even I can't explain. Things have been better recently, but we're still not winning games quite as we used to. No one can put his finger on what's happened at Chelsea."
On keeping the Champions League dream alive...
"Playing in the Champions League was important to me. So, if Chelsea hadn't won it, I doubt I would have signed. But, this year, we'll be where we deserve to be. If we're not in the Champions League, we'll not have deserved to be in it. We'll not have done enough to make the top four. You can eat away at 10 or 11 points very quickly, but it's easier if you still have 30 matches to play. We only have 14 so I think the Premier League is finished. So we'll have to win [the European Cup] to qualify. Why not? Look at 2012. That's why I always say we have to target the Champions League."
-Eden Hazard; source: Guardian
Hazard also talks about his goal drought, Hiddink's impact on the team, Drogba's continuing impact as a mentor, and about being a leader on the pitch rather than off of it. One would hope that these aren't just empty words from the recently turned 25-year-old Hazard. We might miss out on the Champions League next season, but we'll need him back to his best if we want to remedy that situation next season.