Footballing family watches Eden become cream of the Hazard crop
Hazard has left Chelsea after seven years at the club to join Real Madrid.
Eden Hazard was born to be a footballer.
His mother Carine played in Belgium’s Women’s First Division until she was three months pregnant with him, while his dad, a defender, continued an amateur career which took him as high as the third division with Louviere.
Add in three younger brothers, all players, and as Hazard has noted they could put together a mean five-a-side team.
Thorgan, 26, signed for Borussia Dortmund from Bundesliga rivals Borussia Monchengladbach in a reported £30million deal last month; Kylian, 23, is at Cercle Brugge on loan from Chelsea; Ethan, 15, is with the same Tubize academy that Eden once played for.
But Hazard’s footballing story started before Tubize.
It started when he would sneak over the back fence of their house in Braine-le-Comte to play on the fields of local side Royal Stade Brainois.
When he was finally caught by the club’s general manager, Pascal Delmoitiez planned on reprimanding the intruder but the closer he got, the more impressed he was by the youngster’s penalty placement as he fired one after another into the top corner, and instead signed him up for the juniors.
Hazard spent five years with the club, though Delmoitiez recalled they could only teach him so much – he seemed to know most of it already.
Next he moved up the road to second division side Tubize and soon the youth academy of Lille, across the border in France but still only an hour from home, came calling.
It took Hazard just a few months to sign his first professional contract, and a debut came at the age of 16. He did not immediately become a regular, of course, but after he became Lille’s youngest-ever goalscorer at the age of 17, a Belgium call-up swiftly followed.
His four seasons in northern France were highlighted by the 2010-11 campaign, when Lille completed a Ligue 1 and Coupe de France double, with Hazard contributing 12 goals in 54 appearances.
There was no question he was the star graduate of Lille’s academy, but still there was the odd gripe about his application.
There was the time that manager Georges Leekens suspended him after he was caught outside the ground eating a hamburger while a match in which he had been substituted continued inside.
His former captain Rio Mavuba claimed he played his final game for the club, a dead rubber against Nancy, hungover after a late night celebrating his upcoming move to Chelsea. Not that it showed on the pitch as he scored a 34-minute hat-trick.
Such antics would not be tolerated by Jose Mourinho. Chelsea had won a lengthy transfer battle to land Hazard, and rewards came early as he contributed to six goals in his first three games.
It has been a pattern ever since. His best goalscoring year prior to this came in 2014-15, helping Chelsea to the Premier League title and League Cup double, and he has equalled that tally of 19 this campaign.
Hazard has also matured off the pitch. Now a father of three after marrying his childhood sweetheart Natacha, the Belgian keeps himself to himself away from football.
The keen NBA fan has been a regular sight at games at the O2, but otherwise little is heard of him, even at San Diego 1904, the North American Soccer League club he co-owns alongside Demba Ba, Yohan Cabaye and Moussa Sow.
His talking comes on the pitch, where he has helped Chelsea to two Europa League crowns, two league titles, an FA Cup and a League Cup.
Fair to say then that Hazard has delivered all that was promised when Chelsea saw off both Manchester clubs and Arsenal to sign him in 2012.
One other club had been interested as Zinedine Zidane had personally recommended him to his old club Real Madrid. Seven years later, Zidane and Madrid have their man.