Eden Hazard, previously associated with Chelsea and Real Madrid, has officially ended his illustrious career at the age of 32.
Despite his small stature, the Belgian maestro consistently showcased his talent in the English Premier League, leaving opponents bewildered week after week. However, his tenure at the 14-time Champions League winners was less successful.
His move to Real Madrid in 2019 appeared to be a transfer that would benefit all parties. Having won two Premier League titles, two Europa League titles, and numerous domestic cups at Chelsea, the football community had high expectations for his impact in the Spanish topflight.
Leaving Chelsea as a modern Premier League great, Hazard arrived in Spain with great anticipation, signing a five-year deal for a fee that could have exceeded £150 million, according to BBC Sport.
Yet, after four years, 76 appearances, seven goals, and 12 assists, both Hazard and Real Madrid mutually agreed to terminate his contract.
The former Lille man, who spearheaded the French club to a stunning 2010/11 Ligue 1 triumph, had cemented himself as one of the brightest footballers of the modern era and fans – especially of a Stamford Bridge persuasion – will look back fondly on his heyday.
A four-year purgatory in the Spanish capital, unfortunately, provided a sad epilogue to his illustrious career. And now, footage has now emerged of a tackle, made by Borussia Dortmund defender Thomas Meunier, which is believed to be the start of the end of his time as a footballer.
Thomas Meunier’s tackle on Eden Hazard
Those associated with Madrid will always ponder what might have happened if Meunier, a then Paris Saint-Germain player, hadn’t kicked his compatriot in their Champions League contest in November 2019.
With the score 1-0 in the 62nd minute and PSG eagerly chasing a goal, Hazard attempted to slip away from Meunier, who lunged with an outstretched right leg. In an attempt to avoid contact, the Madrid winger spun but was clipped on the ankle.
And although the initial consensus was that a three-week absence from action would suffice, Hazard continued to complain even when the swelling has reduced back to normal and further scans revealed a small crack in his ankle. It marked a lamentable end to his inaugural campaign at his new employers, while he told Madrid fans: ‘Judge me by my second season’.
Florentino Perez, Real Madrid president, has even held a grudge against the Belgian for injuring one his club’s prized possessions, as Meunier revealed on RTBF (viaMarca) two years on from the incident.
After the match I was in the tunnel andFlorentino [Perez]arrived.I stretched out my hand and said ‘pleased to meet you’.
“He replied by saying ‘Pleased to meet you? Do you realise you just injured Eden Hazard? And you tell me you’re pleased to meet me?’. I replied saying ‘I injured Eden Hazard? It’s my fault?’
“He said ‘Yes, it’s your fault’ I told him it was a duel like any other. It’s football, and it was a piece of play like any other.”
Meunier then went on to claim the injury was a mere accident and that he had no intention of injuring his international teammate – but Perez, old-fashioned and stubborn as he is, was having none of it.
An injury to his ankle had, however, seemingly become a recurring issue for the charismatic winger seeing as he had a metal plate fitted after suffering an injury of a similar ilk at Chelsea in 2017. After his collision with Meunier, Madrid insisted that the hardware be changed and so, he went under the knife. This had a detrimental effect on his psychological state for seasons to come as Hazard lost his touch of being a springy, hard-to-tackle talisman.
Doctor Jose Palacios removed the plate at Madrid’s University Hospital at the back end of the 2021/22, though by then his suitability to the side’s winger berth had been fulfilled, courtesy ofVinícius Jr’s emergence as one of the best footballers in the world.
Will this incident be remembered asthemoment that forced Hazard into entering a downwards trajectory?
— Vaal🇸🇳 (@gtahbe) October 10, 2023