Eden Hazard has given an insightful and, at times, brutally honest interview about his much-talked-about spell at Real Madrid.
The 33-year-old former Belgium international, who announced his retirement in October last year, joined Real Madrid from Chelsea in 2019 for a record fee of £88.5 million.
But he struggled to pin down a regular first-team spot at the Bernabeu.
In fact, after being restricted to just 54 league appearances across an injury plagued four-year spell in the Spanish capital, his contract at Los Blancos was terminated at the end of June.
After being a free agent for several months, Hazard eventually called it a day but the former Lille winger has remained relatively quiet until this week, when he opened up to French publicationL’Equipe.
Hazard touched on a number of subjects, including the age-old debate between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, career regrets, and his time in the Spanish capital.
When asked if Real Madrid was the right club for him, he replied: “Now it’s easy to say. Since I was little I was a fan of Zinedine Zidane. The Bernabeu, the white shirt… it has a charm that the others don’t have.
“Madrid is special. Beyond that, I don’t think I fit in. It’s not like me. It’s a bit of a big-headed club, and I’m not like that. I didn’t even like the way we played if you compare it with other clubs.
“But it was my dream. I couldn’t finish my career without coming here.”
Hazard was also criticised for his efforts in training and during matches throughout his time at Madrid and in the interview, he addressed allegations of laziness.
“They say I was a slacker but I haven’t spent 16 years [as a professional] without training. The little games, the little runs, I was there,” he said.
“It’s true that some mornings I arrived without sleeping well, not feeling like it, no desire, and when it’s like that, I show it.
“Don’t give me the ball. I’m making a square metre and I’m not moving! I don’t move. And I don’t move for an hour. An hour of tactics? ‘Can I go with the physio?'”
Hazard, who denied he could have had a longer career if he had followed the same fitness regime as Cristiano Ronaldo, added: “I’m a bon vivant, I like to eat, with friends, we have a drink.
“With Chelsea I’d just finished one of the best seasons of my career. I said to myself, ‘now that I’m at Real Madrid, this is perhaps the last vacation I’ll be able to take…’
“And I let go of myself like I let go of myself every summer. Seven years in England, without a break at Christmas, giving everything, so when I have three or four weeks of vacation, ‘don’t bother me’ barbecues, rosé wine… all that.
“And that’s what allowed me to reset myself to start again. Then, Real, it went wrong and that’s it.”
When asked if he had any regrets over his time in Madrid, he replied: “No. I was sad for the supporters, and disappointed for them. When I arrived, they were full of hope.
“I kind of feel like I’ve let them down. I want to tell them: ‘Hey, it’s not my fault, my body gave up on me. I tried, it didn’t work. I’m sorry’.”