Eden Michael Hazard (French pronunciation: [edɛn azaʁ]; born 7 January 1991) is a Belgian professional footballer who plays for English club Chelsea and the Belgium national team. He primarily plays as an attacking midfielder and as a wide midfielder. Hazard’s creativity, speed, dribbling and close ball control are widely acknowledged. He has been described as “a superb passer” and has earned critical acclaim for his playing style, which has led to the media, coaches, and players drawing comparisons to Ballon d’Or winners Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.Hazard is often ranked by coaches, colleagues, and commentators as one of the best players in the world.
Hazard is the son of two former footballers and began his career in Belgium playing for local youth clubs. In 2005, he moved to France where he began his senior career, joining first division club Lille. Hazard spent two years in the club’s academy and, at the age of 16, made his professional debut in November 2007. He went on to become an integral part of Lille under manager Rudi Garcia, racking up over 190 appearances. In his first full season as a starter, he won the National Union of Professional Footballers (UNFP) Young Player of the Year award, becoming the first non-French player to win the award. In the 2009–10 season, Hazard captured the award again, becoming the first player to win the award twice He was also named to the league’s Team of the Year.
In the 2010–11 season, he was a part of the Lille team that won the league and cup double and, as a result of his performances, was named the UNFP Ligue 1 Player of the Year becoming the youngest player to win the award. Hazard was also given the Bravo Award by Italian magazine Guerin Sportivo for his performances during the 2010–11 season. In June 2012, after spending over eight years at Lille, Hazard signed for English club Chelsea, where he went on to win the UEFA Europa League in his first season and the PFA Young Player of the Year in his second. In the 2014–15 season, he helped Chelsea win the League Cup and Premier League, earning him the FWA Footballer of the Year and the PFA Players’ Player of the Year awards. Two years later he won his second English title as Chelsea secured the 2016–17 Premier League.
Hazard is a Belgium international, having represented his nation at under-17 and under-19 level. Hazard made his senior international debut in November 2008, aged 17, in a friendly match against Luxembourg. Nearly three years after his debut, Hazard scored his first international goal against Kazakhstan in October 2011. He has since earned over 90 caps, and was a member of the Belgian squad which reached the quarter-finals of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the UEFA Euro 2016. He was named Belgium captain for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and having led his nation to the semi-finals he received the Silver Ball as the second best player of the tournament.
By any conceivable assessment, Hazard is one of the most talented soccer players on the planet. He is at minimum one of the five best dribblers in the game today; is a veritable genius when it comes to knowing when and where and how to play the kinds of cutting passes that lead to goals; has a brilliant sense of space and positioning and timing that allows him to sniff out and sneak into tiny openings on the pitch, from where he can do maximum damage; has proven the ability to chip in more than his fair share of goals; has been the best player on two Premier League-winning teams; and at the ripe age of 27 should be cresting into the peak of his career in terms of both individual performances and team success.
Instead, Hazard is stuck playing for a schizophrenic club that regularly veers from title contention to abject awfulness from one year to the next, a club that appears to be drifting ever further from the ranks of Europe’s elite, one that doesn’t seem likely to surround the Belgian with a squad that matches Hazard’s own world-class quality and helps him realize what should be his professional aims any time soon. For these reasons, Hazard would probably be better off leaving for new pastures sooner rather than later.