It can be hard to truly appreciate greatness in the moment it’s happening. Only after the fact do we often reflect and properly assess what we might have seen or experienced. And when we look back on the past decade of Chelsea Football Club, it becomes increasingly clear just how lucky and privileged we were to witness the best of Eden Hazard.
And it was because of that greatness, and because of the love engendered by that greatness, that we were able to let Eden go in 2019, to let him complete a childhood dream after making many of our own dreams come true.
And we’ve undoubtedly shared at least a little bit in his 3.5-year personal horror ever since.
Eden’s Real Madrid dream has been nothing short of an absolute nightmare, from just about day dot to the very present. He’s started just 42 games in those 42 months, scoring just 7 goals, while dealing with a constant stream of injuries, surgeries, and various fitness and form issues. And over the past year, even when he’s been healthy, he’s not been an automatic choice — in fact, he’s sat through 11 of Real’s 14 league matches this season on the bench, featuring just three times and none since mid-September.
About to enter the final 18 months of his contract, Eden’s ready to admit defeat, ready to leave if the club want him to, ready to get back to playing, ready to have some fun again. (Though he adds that at no point have Chelsea called him since he left, so let’s not worry those inevitable but highly unlikely rumors.)
“Being a Real Madrid player was my dream as a child and after this year I have another season on my contract. I want to play for this club, with this shirt.
“[But] in summer it is possible that I go. I have one more year on my contract and it’s the club’s decision. If the club tells me ‘Eden, thanks for four years, but you have to go’, I have to accept it because it’s normal. But I would like to play more, show more that I can play, that I am a good player.”
Hazard’s fitness issues weren’t completely surprising given his emphasis on having fun, and his Premier League opponents’ emphasis on trying to ruin that fun by any means, legal or illegal, necessary. And he’s tried to change what is in his control, but fates have conspired against him to a large degree ever since he went to Madrid.
“During ten years [including] at Chelsea I played 500 games without injuries or anything, and then in two years all these injuries... It’s something I can’t explain. [...] I have changed many things. [Gym and] food too.”
“I played many games in ten years, seven in the Premier with many kicks. There are moments in life when you have a little less luck with a game, an injury... and you have to understand your way of life. You can change things in life, but I think many were due to bad luck, a bit because of the coronavirus, a bit because of the confinement...
Whatever the reason, there’s little point in dwelling on it. No regrets! But Eden does feel like he’s got something to prove, and is hoping to prove on the world’s biggest stage as he captains Belgium at the 2022 World Cup, the last hurrah for their Golden Generation.
“I have to prove to everyone that I can play football. People have doubts about what I can do, but I don’t. [...] I am a player who has not played many games in three years. I can understand it. I have to show when I play, be it five, ten or 15 minutes. I want to play and when I do I have to do it well.”
-Eden Hazard; source: Marca
Best of luck, Legend!