Eden Hazard has announced his retirement from football at the age of 32.
The Belgian left Real Madrid in the summer, ending a four-year stay with Los Blancos after his contract was mutually terminated early after what had been an unhappy stay. But Hazard will be fondly remembered for his time with Chelsea and Lille.
“You must listen to yourself and say stop at the right time. After 16 years and more than 700 matches played, I have decided to end my career as a professional footballer,” Hazard wrote on Instagram.
“I was able to realise my dream, I have played and had fun on many pitches around the world. During my career I was lucky to meet great managers, coaches and teammates – thank you to everyone for these great times, I will miss you all.
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“I also want to thank the clubs I have played for: LOSC, Chelsea and Real Madrid; and thank the RBFA for my Belgian Selection. A special thank you to my family, my friends, my advisors and the people who have been close to me in good times and bad.
“Finally, a huge thank you to you, my fans, who have followed me for all these years and for your encouragement everywhere I have played. Now is the time to enjoy my loved ones and have new experiences. See you off the field soon my friends.”
Hazard joined Lille as a 14-year-old and eventually signed a professional contract. Across five years for the senior team, Hazard played just short of 200 games for Lille, helping them win Ligue 1 in 2010/11.
In the summer of 2012 Hazard was one of the most sought-after players in Europe with a number of Premier League clubs fighting for his signature. Hazard chose newly-crowned European champions Chelsea — announced by his tweet “I am signing for the Champions League winner” — and the rest was history.
The rest is history. https://t.co/WIs815dz1V
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) October 10, 2023
Over seven years at Chelsea, Hazard became a legend of the club and one of the best players in the Premier League. He won two Premier League titles, the FA Cup, League Cup and two Europa Leagues, only missing out on the Champions League to complete the set. In the 2014/15 season, Hazard was named the Football Writers’ Association’s Footballer of the Year, PFA Players’ Player of the Year and Premier League Player of the Season, as Chelsea wrapped up the title.
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Hazard also won the 2018/19 Playmaker Award with 15 assists in the Premier League, adding to his 16 goals. This feat made him one of just four players in Premier League history to score 15+ goals and record 15+ assists in a single season, after Thierry Henry (24 goals, 20 assists in 2002/03), Matt Le Tissier (19 goals, 15 assists in 1994/95) and Eric Cantona (15 goals, 16 assists in 1992/93).
It was actually the second time Hazard had achieved 15+ goals and 15+ assists, doing so for Lille in his final campaign for the club in 2011/12. Only one other player has scored 15+ goals and provided 15+ assts in multiple big-five Europe league seasons, with Hazard alongside Lionel Messi.
Since 2006/07 at least, only two players have scored 15+ goals and provided 15+ assists in multiple big-five European league seasons.
The Dribble Kings. 👑 pic.twitter.com/zlTT6PH71W
— Squawka (@Squawka) October 10, 2023
That 2018/19 campaign was perhaps Hazard’s best for Chelsea, thriving under Maurizio Sarri as more of a main attacking outlet, with the Belgian also netting twice to help the Blues beat Arsenal 4-1 in the Europa League final. In the Premier League, Hazard became just the fourth Chelsea player to be directly involved in 30+ goals in a single campaign, after Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (2000/01), Frank Lampard (2004/05 and 2009/10) and Didier Drogba (2009/10).
Aside from his goals and assists, Hazard was best known for his dribbling. The Belgian was unrivalled when in full flow, with some of his best goals for Chelsea coming after mazy runs, including against Arsenal, Liverpool and West Ham. During his time in the Premier League, Hazard completed a ridiculous 916 take-ons, more than any other player in the division.
Eden Hazard completed 100+ take-ons in five different Premier League seasons:
◉ 181 – 2014/15
◉ 165 – 2017/18
◉ 143 – 2016/17
◉ 137 – 2018/19
◉ 132 – 2013/14
During that 2014/15 season, he also created 100 chances with 98 from open play. 🤯 pic.twitter.com/YsqayufSYB
— Squawka (@Squawka) October 10, 2023
He completed 100+ take-ons in five separate Premier Leagues seasons, including 181 in 2014/15 when he combined that with 100 chances created (98 of which were from open play!).
While his time at Real Madrid produced a dismal end to his career, particularly given it was his dream move, Hazard’s retirement announcement has brought the good memories back. And in true Hazard fashion, the former No.10 announced his retirement on the 10th day of the 10th month.
What footballers have said about Eden Hazard:
Sitting alongside Hazard in the double 15+ group in the Premier League, Henry also worked closely with the Belgian during his time with the national team. It was there that Henry grew close with Hazard, falling in love with the way he played.
“My favourite player of the last few years is Eden Hazard,” Henry told L’Equipe.
“It was just… ‘wow’, and he’s such an instinctive player! The only thing you have to do is give him guidance in the zones where he will receive the ball and then he’ll be able to express himself. In the structure, he does what he wants.
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“How many times have I sat on the bench and thought ‘what on earth is he doing? Oh! Amazing!’ Even I’ve scored goals when I’ve heard my manager shout not to shoot. So you can give instructions, but you can’t control instinct.”
Former Premier League defender Jamie Carragher added to the conversation, dubbing Hazard an all-time Premier League great.
“Interesting seeing the takes on here regarding Eden Hazard so here’s mine! He was the best player in the Premier League for four years. Won PFA Young Player, PFA Player & FWP of the Year awards. He won every trophy at Chelsea except the Champions League,” he tweeted.
“He was in my eyes the best performer at the 2018 World Cup when Belgium finished third. An all-time Premier League great no doubt and would be in a lot of all-time 11s!
“In the past that alone would be enough to be lauded unquestionably but in this day and age, people are still not happy with that, as he didn’t win a World Cup or do the business at Madrid.”
There were also kind words from a couple of former teammates including John Terry and Demba Ba, the latter recalling a moment that Hazard supported him off the pitch,
He tweeted: “Me and my boy we go way back.
“Back in 2015, I’ve organized a charity dinner and this man came with me at event before everyone arrived and left after everyone was gone. Showing me the upmost support before driving me back at my hotel in the middle of the night.
“This is more than football!!! Eden Hazard is a man of great value.”
Me and my boy we go way back.
Back in 2015, I’ve organized a charity dinner and this man came with me at event before everyone arrived and left after everyone was gone. Showing me the upmost support before driving me back at my hotel in the middle of the night.
This is more… pic.twitter.com/H4gsyHbNcg
— Demba Ba (@dembabafoot) October 10, 2023
Good Luck Eden 💙 pic.twitter.com/7fJDgSlTYT
— John Terry (@JohnTerry26) October 10, 2023
If you love good football, then you enjoy Eden Hazard. Iconic🎩 👏🏾
— Tchouameni Aurélien (@atchouameni) October 10, 2023