There was a time when Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard spearheaded the greatest Chelsea team in history and one of the best sides in the world, decorated with a countless number of Premier League and FA Cup titles and also two Champions League finals. This generation was faltering gradually, and Chelsea were desperate to stay within touching distance of Europe’s elite.
They called on Eden Hazard…
4th June 2012 was the date when every Chelsea fan’s life changed. Chelsea had announced they had captured the young Belgian from LOSC Lille for a bargain fee believed to be £32 million. Little did they know that they would go on to make £100m profit on him seven illustrious years later…
The elegantly skilled Belgian had already caught the eye to many plaudits early on in his Chelsea career for his dazzling skills and tricks as well as his slick dribbling ability. This reminisced the quote of Lampard in 2013 when he commented on Hazard’s uniqueness:
The ability he has on the ball, he is scaring the life out of people
He knew and we knew that Chelsea weren’t going to be reliant on Lampard forever and that they would need a maestro to fill his boots soon…
After sadly missing out on the Europa League final against Benfica in 2013, it was inevitable that Hazard was going to win a trophy with Chelsea at some point and in March 2015, the Belgian won his first trophy with Chelsea as they comfortably beat Tottenham 2-0 in the League Cup final. Flashforward two months, and Hazard scored the winning the goal in bizarre fashion as he missed a penalty and scored from the rebound against Crystal Palace to win the most coveted title in English football- the Premier League title. For certain it had been one of Chelsea’s best seasons in quite a few years and it was no coincidence that Eden Hazard was at the centre of all that success as he won the PFA Player of the Season award and the Chelsea Player of the Season too (for the second season running).
Hazard elevated his game to the elite level in the 2016/17 season during Antonio Conte’s debut season as they dominantly clinched the league title for the second season out of three and also reached a first FA Cup final in 5 years as they narrowly lost 2-1 to Arsenal. That season proved to be Hazard’s highest scoring Premier League season, finishing with 16 goals.
He would go on to conclude his final season with Chelsea with a personal record of 16 goals and 15 assists in the Premier League and most importantly would produce his best performance of his career against Arsenal in the Europa League final to help the Blues thrash their London rivals 4-1 thanks to his two goals and one assist in Baku.
It was surely a fitting way to end a remarkable seven years at Chelsea where he has exceeded the expectations of many and loyally stayed put when there were years when Chelsea missed out on Champions League qualification and trophies. For those reasons, Eden Hazard will solely be remembered amongst the likes of Drogba, Cech and Lampard as Chelsea greats and his incredible loyalty to the club is something which you can’t associate with many Premier League players in this day. You look at Alexis Sanchez and Philippe Coutinho and now you see how much they regret leaving their clubs when they could have easily become legends. Hazard could have easily tripped up on that path but no, he remained loyal for seven years and now has deservedly received his reward for that.
He conquered the Premier League. He conquered England. Now is the time to conquer the world.