By all accounts and appearances, Eden Hazard is one of the more easy-going football players around, especially among those at (or near) the top levels of the game. On and off the pitch, his carefree attitude makes him a great teammate and a fan favorite, but perhaps it doesn't readily suit ambitions such as becoming the best in the world. Naming him captain, as Belgium have done, perhaps isn't exactly an obvious move either — it's only unsurprising because it's not the first time — but there's a method to the madness.
"I have several leaders. In terms of the captain's armband, I think there are people who do it in different ways than I did. But Eden is Eden... You become a leader with your feet."
"For me a leader is someone that when the team needs a player to put his foot on the ball, he succeeds in bringing the team with him.... in order to gain some time and to have personality on the pitch."
"Outside, he doesn't need a lot. He needs to retain his personality but in his game he's going to become much more of a leader. Just like Kevin De Bruyne and everyone else."
Hazard certainly led with his feet last season, when Chelsea sauntered to the Premier League title. This season's sauntering wasn't nearly as successful, but Hazard did show signs of life towards the end. Everyone's hoping he'll carry that into the Euros next month and into next season in August.
"Eden is still only 25. Look at everything he's already done. I think it's not bad already - whether it's in France or in England. I feel a huge desire in him for the Euros. It shouldn't be too big a desire -- you shouldn't force things. He needs to remain natural. He's someone who's very relaxed. He's an excellent footballer. And all he wants to do is bring joy to his country and to enjoy himself with the national team."
"That's what I'm expecting. He doesn't need to be a captain who's going to shout. I spoke about it today -- 'let your feet do the talking.' It's better than any speech."
-Marc Wilmots; source: DH via ESPN
Here's Hazard's pre-match motivational speech.