In his 300th appearance for Chelsea — the 35th player in the club’s history to reach that milestone — Hazard scored the FA Cup final’s lone goal, getting on the end of a superb long ball from Cesc Fabregas, inducing Phil Jones to foul him in the box and calmly slotting in the ensuing penalty kick. It was enough for the win, for a celebration, but perhaps not atonement for the season as a whole.
“I think it’s a great feeling today, especially when you lose a final last year. We didn’t play a good season this year, but we finish well, so yeah, I’m just happy for the boys, for the fans, it’s a good feeling.
“We want to finish the season with trophy. We couldn’t finish in the top four, we don’t have champions league next season, but at least we have something to celebrate this year. So let’s celebrate now with the fans.”
The FA Cup is a new trophy for Hazard and he celebrated accordingly. He wanted to add the Champions League to it at the start of the season, too, but that campaign petered out in Barcelona and now we have to take an enforced 12-month break. Hazard has said recently that he would choose Chelsea even without Champions League, though that hasn’t stopped rumors of him leaving, which have followed his every step since arriving at Chelsea six years ago.
It’s so much part of the narrative that even relatively new kid on the block, Antonio Rüdiger decided to joke about it in the post-match interview, and of course Hazard, ever the happy-go-lucky one, joined in.
With Toni yelling “Eden stay, Eden stay!” in his ear, Hazard first made a show of walking away, then turned back to the mic to revealed his BIG condition for staying (as opposed to, you know, making some good signings and getting a new manager).
“I need Antonio Rüdiger to play like this every game and then I stay, I promise I stay, because I want to play with him.”
It’s a good thing Rüdiger’s just getting started, right?
Conte’s impending departure has quickly taken on a Hazard (and others) vs. Conte tinge, but Hazard’s Chelsea legend appears to be safe for now. If we can’t work out that new contract this summer, then there might be cause for concern. For now, attentions turn to vacations and the World Cup.
“Now we just need to focus. We have the World Cup. We have some days of holiday now. and just focus. We don’t talk about next season right now, we talk about holiday and World Cup!”
-Eden Hazard; source: BT Sport
As good as winning the FA Cup feels, this season fell short of requirements and expectations, and a crucial three months of off-season action awaits us. Improvements must be made, with or without Conte, with or without Hazard, with or without Courtois. But whatever happens, for now, we can enjoy this happy moment at the end of a trying season.