Creative Soccer Culture

In Conversation: Eden Hazard

Taking the rough with the smooth, Eden Hazard is a man that has experienced it all in his relatively short career. As we chat through his journey we have to remind ourselves that this player is still only 25 years-old, the next chapters are still to be written and the ink is still fresh. On set for his new Nike F.C. photoshoot we sit down with the Belgium and Chelsea attacker to get his take on all things football.

You grew up in Braine-le-Comte, just meters away from Avenue du Stade. What memories do you have of playing football at that time? 

"I have a lot of memories with the ball and playing with my brothers in the garden. It was a stone's throw from the pitch. I have a lot of good memories of that."

How did you come to train with the Stade Brainois juniors? 

"I started there with my friends. I have a lot of friends who are still in the team now. It was good to play with friends in a small village, in a small team. I played there for five or six years and after that I moved to a bigger club in Tubize."

You spent five years there before moving to Tubize – how important were those years to your development as a player?

"It was easy to move there. and I learned a lot in Tubize because it was a better club with better players, so it was good for me. I said to my parents “I want to move, I want to play at a better club” and they said “ok, we have to try Tubize” and yeah, that turned out to be a good choice. After there I moved to France."

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When you moved to Lille and played for their youth academy, how did you find the transition? 

"Yeah, it’s not easy for a young guy. I was fourteen, it changed everything. I started to sleep away from home at the training grounds and I was also put in school there. I have a lot of good memories from there. When I was 16 I started to train with the first team and eventually I got to play my first game professionally."

All three of your brothers are footballers too. Was there a lot of competition growing up? 

"Always. We always played one vs one or sometimes one vs two. It was a lot of fun and it didn’t matter if you won or lost at that point, we just enjoyed every moment. If I could repeat it again, I would."

Have you been able to play football with them when you go home and meet up? 

"No, not so much. We all play everyday at our clubs, so if you have a day off it's more for rest. These days that time is spent playing with my kids and not so much with my brothers. I do hope that one day I can play with them in the national team or the same club, maybe one day."

You're the eldest brother. Do you think that has helped you mature so quickly as a player?

"I don’t know if I’m a role model but I do try to be. I think there’s a lot they can learn from me. When you are the first born you have to show a good example and to set a good example to your younger brothers."

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You're only 25 but it feels like you've been around a lot longer. How do you look back on your career to date?

"Not bad. I’ve won a couple of trophies in both France and England and I hope now that I can add a lot more. I want to play a lot of games and I want to score a lot more goals and the objective is to win a lot more trophies. If one day I can win the Ballon d’Or, it would be good."

You've always said 'I want to be the best'. What do you need to do to achieve that and go to the next level? 

"If I want to be the best, I just have to score a lot of goals and work hard because that is what everyone thinks about, just look at Cristiano Ronaldo. If I want to be the best then that is what I have to keep working on; to score more goals, win more games, lift more trophies."

This summer will be Belgium's first Euro's in 16 years. Are you going into Euro 2016 very much fancying your chances of winning it? 

"Yeah, we’ve talked a lot about winning it, we’re a good team. Two years ago, we played our first World Cup for this generation and now this is the first Euro. But yeah, we are there and we think we can win and I think we can win well. In football, you never know, all we will do is try to do everything we can."

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You're the most fouled player in the Premier League and Champions League almost every season. Is it a compliment that teams have to result to those tactics to try and stop you? 

"I don’t know if it is a compliment but it’s how I play. I like to get the ball and have it at my feet. I just try to play that way and end up taking a lot of kicks. If I can win something like a free kick or a penalty in the process, then it can help us win games. I just try to play my football and if that ends up with people fouling me and we gain an advantage from that then I don’t mind."

You've had so many highs in your career but every player has a time when things don't go to plan. Do times like that define you as a player and make you stronger? 

"Yeah. You learn every time. When you win, when you lose, there is a lot of time that you don’t spend at the top so you can learn a lot about strength at this time. You could look at this season with Chelsea. There have been bad moments and we now have to bounce back. We just have to keep working more and more to make things right. When things aren’t going well, that’s when you probably have to work even harder to make things right."

You've won the PFA players’ player award and have received compliments from players such as Zinedine Zidane. Is that the best recognition you can get, from your fellow players?

"Of course. When you are the best player in one country it is a good feeling. I did it in France and Belgium and it comes with good memories but it’s one of those things, once you have won one, you always want more. You never want to stop winning, you just want to keep going, win after win."

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You've played with some outstanding footballers at Chelsea. Which player has had the most influence on you?? 

"So many great players, people like Didier who is a legend at Chelsea. It was a pleasure to play with Frank and learn from him. Those guys have won pretty much everything and if I can reach the same levels as them I’ll be happy."

Are there any other sports that you enjoy and take inspiration from? 

"I like NBA a lot. I try to watch the games when I can, if it’s not too late. I like a lot of sport. I watch handball and I even watch rugby. I like the atmosphere of all these different games. "

Finally, you're a big Nike fan, especially when it comes to the Air Max - does the brand reflect elements of your character?

"Yes, because I try to wear something I like and is comfortable also. I can wear a tracksuit and Air Max every day because that is me. I like to be free and not tight with jeans and things like that, I like to relax."

When it comes to football boots, do you get excited when you get a new pair?

"Of course, every time. When a new colour comes out or a new style, it’s a moment we all wait for and get excited about - I love it."

Shop the full Nike F.C. collection here.


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