Eden Hazard: The ultimate entertainer no manager can change

The exact date escapes me, but I remember it was early 2012. Maybe it was late 2011, I don’t know. Anyway, life as a Tottenham fan was pretty good under Harry Redknapp. Despite the success of 2009/10, 2011/12 lives even better in my memory.

Baal, Modric, Van de Vaart, Adebayor, Parker; Redknapp’s Spurs at their peak.

It was also a time when talk of transfers seemed prehistoric compared to today’s flood of information.

Jim White and his yellow tie were the Fabrizio Romano of that era. His word was gospel. However, this only serves to contextualize the era.

Twitter / When my father told me on an innocuous car ride that he had heard “from a guy in the pub” (probably) that Gonzalo Higuain and Eden Hazard had signed preliminary contracts for the Harry Lilywhites programme, I couldn’t help it but put on an exuberant appearance. It was huge. Hazard and Higuain in N17!

Oh, the naivety, but how utopian the Lilywhite half of north London might have been if the Wheatsheaf’s dubious source had been proven correct.

Forget Higuain for a moment, because even if Roberto Soldado had been spared, a certain Harry Kane might never have had his chance.

It’s all about danger here. The Belgian was certainly a name I knew, but the lack of Ligue 1 action on British television at the time meant that my imagination, perhaps biased, was based on YouTube compilations and supposed ‘reports from recognition” provided by an accompanied EDM beat always sounded the same. .

It didn’t take the smartest people to assess the Belgian’s talent.
But instead of seeing him fill Gareth Bale’s void, I was exposed to Hazard’s genius from west London.

It turns out there may have been some truth to the pre-contract with Tottenham as he later revealed he was tempted by Spurs, but Chelsea’s incredible Champions League triumph in Munich, which left the north Londoners out of the competition the following season. , the Hazard competition leaned largely in favor of the Blues.

I got used to Chelsea poaching us and, thanks to my best friend’s fans, my dislike for the Blues grew throughout high school.

This bitter rivalry, not Tom and I, but Tottenham and Chelsea, meant that Hazard became a player I disliked due to, well, tribalism.

However, the Belgian’s talent was so great that no tribalistic impulse could deny my admiration.

Top-level football has long entered an era of systematisation. Coaches are superstars in their own right and individuals are expected to band together for a collective utopia.

It is an ideological battle that arises repeatedly, especially in the Netherlands, between Johan Cruijff and Louis van Gaal.

Cruyff’s empowerment of the individual was in complete contrast to Van Gaal’s emphasis on the collective. One facilitated the ego, while the other preached its submission.

No view is right or wrong, but there is no denying that Van Gaal’s mentality currently dominates.

The collective genius is absolutely to be praised, but the reduced attention to individualism, in my opinion, minimizes the poetic brilliance of a sport that for a long time was defined as ‘beautiful’.

“The Beautiful Game” was a phrase coined not for the excellence of a team, but for the magic of a superstar.

Pele, Ronaldinho, Lionel Messi and Neymar were/are all big supporters, as is Eden Hazard.

Its low center of gravity, incredibly sharp feet, and compact frame, which included a steel stock, combined to produce some of the greatest dribbles of the modern era.

Hazard’s inability to weave through opponents and overcome challenges allowed him to score some memorable individual tries.

The victory against Arsenal in 2017, when Francis Coquelin went beyblade, will always be remembered, as will his goal against West Ham in his final season at Chelsea.

These efforts came at a time when Hazard was arguably at the peak of his career in blue.

The Belgian’s brilliance inspired Antonio Conte’s side during the Italian’s first season at the club, winning the title, while his 31-goal contribution in 2018/19 took an often dull side led by Maurizio Sarri back into the Champions League.

Hazard simply had an uncanny ability to turn it on, and there was a sense of normality about him that made him somewhat relatable. He was never a great trainer, he hated gym work and supposedly loved cheeseburgers.

For managers, Hazard represented both the problem and the solution.

Sure, he didn’t feel like going back, but you can bet he would have saved you on the other side.

That’s who the Belgian was and no coach could ever change that. He won the championship with Jose Mourinho and Conte, revered for their ball possession ideals in their prime, but Hazard was a talent for whom they simply had to make sacrifices.

“The people [who] are in love with football in this country – people must be in love with Eden Hazard,” Mourinho perfectly surmised in 2015 before their relationship soured.

“Maybe one day we won’t have Eden Hazard anymore”, he had solemnly predicted in the same press, complaining about the referee’s lack of protection.

Eight years later, at the age of 32, Mourinho’s disturbing projection became reality.

A record-breaking move to Real Madrid was something Hazard deserved after establishing himself as a Premier League icon at Stamford Bridge.

Sure, there were breaks, but the Belgian left Chelsea after winning two league titles and being named PFA Player of the Year twice.

However, what should have been a magical moment in the Spanish capital was jeopardized by an innocent challenge from Thomas Meunier, from which his ankle never fully recovered.

His disastrous spell at Real Madrid has undoubtedly hindered his legacy, and naysayers love to mention his Champions League record when downplaying Hazard’s brilliance.

25 goals, of which 22 in the group stage, in 61 appearances are not the best, but how do you reduce such greatness to numbers?
Oh, and in case you want some numbers, here are some for you:

Arsenal; contributions of ten goals in 19 games, Man Utd; seven from 19, Manchester City; ten out of 19, Liverpool; nine from 18 and Tottenham; nine out of 17.

He delivered when it mattered most, don’t worry about that. If the numbers don’t reassure the sceptics, tell them about Hazard’s World Cup season in Russia. An absolute record in a tournament which could well be lost in the annals since Belgium lost to France in the semi-final.
Eden Hazard at the 2018 World Cup was a joke.

With Hazard’s resignation, we remember not only solemnly the sad passing of a great contemporary, but also the fact that football could lose one of its last great champions of individual creative expression.

Even if the new generation of superstars can shine for their efficiency in many respects, the overwhelming majority, at the highest level, lack the balletic elegance of their majestic predecessors.

The art of entertainment is being lost. The 32-year-old’s retirement shouldn’t have hit as hard as it should have.

But as the trauma fades after the postage stamp feat that officially dashed Tottenham’s title dream in 2016, I can only look back on his career with fondness.
Eden Hazard was a normal boy, very good at what he loved most: having fun.

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