Chelsea legend Eden Hazard has announced his retirement from professional football at the age of 32. The Belgian winger, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in Chelsea’s history, had been a free agent since leaving Real Madrid 102 days earlier after reaching an agreement to terminate his contract with the Spanish giants.
Hazard burst onto the scene at Lille, where he won the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year award in 2009. He joined Chelsea in 2012 and went on to win two Premier League titles, two FA Cups, two Europa Leagues, and the League Cup. Hazard was also named PFA Player of the Year and Premier League Player of the Year in 2015.
In 2019, Hazard made a dream move to Real Madrid for a club-record fee of €146 million. However, his time at the Bernabeu was plagued by injuries and he failed to live up to expectations, scoring just seven goals in 72 appearances.
Hazard’s retirement marks the end of an era for Belgian football. He is Belgium’s all-time leading scorer with 33 goals and helped the Red Devils reach the World Cup semi-finals in 2018.
In a statement on his Instagram page, Hazard said: “I have decided to put an end to my playing career. It was a difficult decision, but it is the right one for me. I have been lucky to live my dream and play some of the biggest clubs in the world. I will always cherish the memories I have made on the pitch.”
Hazard’s retirement has been met with an outpouring of tributes from former teammates, coaches, and fans. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich said: “Eden is one of the greatest players to ever wear a Chelsea shirt. He was a key member of the team that won so much success under [Jose] Mourinho and [Antonio] Conte. He will always be remembered as a Chelsea legend.”
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez said: “Eden Hazard is a world-class player and a great role model. He has been a great addition to our club and we are grateful for his contributions. We wish him all the best in his retirement.”
Hazard’s retirement is a loss for the world of football. He was a truly gifted player who entertained fans with his skill, creativity, and flair. He will be remembered as one of the best players of his generation.