It’s not everyday that professional football players open up completely to the press, but just before Saturday’s FA Cup game against Tottenham, that’s exactly what Chelsea’s Eden Hazard did with Eleven Sports Network.
In his fifth season with the Premier League club, the 25-year-old forward has lived quite a few ups and downs at Stamford Bridge, from winning the title in his first season to finishing tenth last season after a catastrophic campaign.
Recapturing his form under Antonio Conte, Hazard still doesn’t feel he’s back to his best, despite scoring 14 goals and picking up five assists in the league this season.
He said: “Honestly, the year we were champions with Chelsea (was his best). That or the season when I won the league with Lille. That first season with Chelsea, I feel I was more consistent in every game.
“This year, I’ve already missed two games through injury, which didn’t happen then. The hardest is just to always play well, not just have one great game, and then play OK the next.”
Explaining he started to feel better about himself in April last year, Hazard also puts his improved performances down to where he plays under the Italian, which he calls ‘half-winger, half 10’.
Brimming with confidence, the player admits to dealing with a fair bit of stress, even if he hides it well.
His technique? Never taking football too seriously.
He explained: “I feel I manage it well. Then again, I look at football the same whether I play in front of 40,000 people at Stamford Bridge or in the garden with my brothers. It remains football, it’s just fun, and I just try and enjoy myself.”
Playing a game of “either/or”, Hazard revealed he would prefer to win a World Cup over picking up the Ballon d’Or, prefers his first stadium to Wembley, but couldn’t quite decide on whether he wants to win a second Premier League or his first FA Cup.
He said: “I’ve never won the FA Cup, but we’re so close to the title that it would be dumb to lose it now. I just hope we get both.”
Despite being a professional footballer, and attracting a lot of the media attention that surrounds it, Hazard is happy with his life off the pitch, pleased he can still do a lot of things normal people do, even if he has one thing he misses a lot.
He said: “We often train in the morning, so I have the afternoons free. I can go pick up my kids from school. Maybe I’d like to eat out a bit more, but I can still do that sometimes. The thing I miss the most is returning to Belgium, to see the close family, as I’m always here in London.
“If I’m not here, I’m with the Belgium squad, and if I’m not with the Belgium squad, we’re on a tour somewhere. That’s what I miss the most, but I can still do most of the things I want to do.”