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The rise of Eden Hazard and his lost Real Madrid years

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Eden Hazard
The rise of Eden Hazard and his lost Real Madrid years. Photo/ Chelsea Football Club.
  • Eden Hazard began his football journey at Lille where he showed signs of becoming a star at a young age
  • Fast forward a couple years later, Eden Hazard was tearing the Premier League with his ability on the pitch
  • Despite having a spectacular career at Chelsea, things didn’t work out for him at Real Madrid

Eden Hazard announced his retirement from professional football on Tuesday after a 16-year career which included stints at Chelsea and Real Madrid. Hazard, once considered one of the best players of his generation, ended his career at the age of 32.

The former Belgium international began his professional football journey at Lille, where he showed signs of becoming a star at a young age. His career at Chelsea scripted a remarkable legacy as it was filled with success and he was loved by even rival fans.

Eden Hazard

Eden Hazard won two Premier League titles with Chelsea. Photo/ Sky Sports.

However, things never worked out for him at Real Madrid as he struggled with injuries and never found his top form. Despite his struggles with the Los Blancos, the 32-year-old will go down in history as one of the greatest players of his generation and one of Premier League’s all time best players.

From Ligue 1 To Premier League Icon

Eden Hazard’s rise began at Lille working under manager Rudi Garcia. He often played as a winger but was also occasionally used as a central attacking midfielder following the departures of Gervinho and Yohan Cabaye.

Fast forward a couple years later, Eden Hazard was tearing Ligue 1 with his ability on the pitch. The talented forward was unstoppable on the pitch, thanks to his amazing pace, dribbling ability and finishing. While in France, he helped Lille win Ligue 1 and Coupe de France.

Well, it didn’t take long before he was on the radar of top European teams. After making over 190 appearances and scoring 50 goals for Lille, Eden Hazard decided to continue his career at Chelsea. He joined the English side during the summer of 2012 for a fee reported to be 32 million euros.

Following his arrival, Hazard told Chelsea’s official website that he couldn’t wait to get started. Well, he really meant what he said as he got to work straight away in his first Premier League match. The then 21-year-old provided an assist and won a penalty for the Blues in the fixture against Wigan Athletic.

Hazard would then form a deadly partnership with former Spain international Juan Mata, which saw them terrorize defences in England and across the continent. Here’s a fun fact: The Chelsea Player of the Year was only won by these two between 2012 and 2015. Well, this shouldn’t be a surprise if you got the chance to watch them back in the days.

Eden Hazard matured into a world class player at Chelsea, winning multiple individual awards. He received comparison to some of the world’s best, including Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gianfranco Zola. Hazard was flying high at Chelsea and he helped the London side win two Premier League and Europa League titles. His seven seasons at Chelsea were superb if you ask any football fan.

Real Madrid Struggles

Signing with Real Madrid in the summer of 2019 as a beast, expectations were high in Spain. He arrived one year after the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus and at a time when Gareth Bale was out of favour with then manager Zinedine Zidane.

The shoes he had to fill at Real Madrid were very big, but with 110 goals and 75 assists for Chelsea, everyone believed he could manage. He was at the peak of his career and his dream move to Real Madrid was supposed to signal a glorious conclusion to a wonderful career.

However, things never worked out for him in Spain. The first alarm bells were sounded when he reported to Real Madrid training looking out of shape, with fans making speculations that he decided to relax during the holiday since he had already secured his dream transfer.

Eden Hazard

Eden Hazard career at Real Madrid was greatly affected by injuries. Photo/ Eurosport.

Hazard missed the start of the season with a hamstring injury. But in his first home match against Granada in October 2019, he scored a brilliant goal and there were signs that he would form an amazing partnership with Karim Benzema.

But as he was just starting to get his top form, Covid struck. Hazard was not fit after the hiatus and that gave a young Vinicius Junior opportunity to showcase his abilities on the left wing. Foe the next three seasons, Hazard found himself in a ditch at Real Madrid.

The talented winger was struggling to even make a second half appearance under Carlo Ancelotti. He was already a forgotten man as fans only thought about Vinicius and fellow Brazilian Rodrygo. In his final season, he would manage just 395 minutes on the pitch.

Yes, all football fans can agree that Eden  Hazard career at Real Madrid was a let-down. But we can also agree that injuries played a significant role in his downfall. The 32-year-old goes into retirement as one of the finest players in Premier League’s history.

Abraham Odhiambo is an avid sports fan who loves to write about football, boxing and wrestling. He's a big supporter of Manchester United. He's pursuing a bachelor's degree in Communication and Media at Egerton University.

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