Hazard: I am not star struck
Chelsea’s new £32m signing Eden Hazard has a clear vision of his role at his new club, which has already earned him a reputation for being one of the most exciting new players in the Premier League.
The 21-year-old Belgian told the new official Champions Matchday magazine: “I love to set up my team-mates. I am not here to be a star, to show off. I am here to play for the others, but if I have to try and clinch a game then I will.
“At Lille, coach (Rudi) Garcia made me play on the wing, which I liked because it means you are more free. You do what you want offensively even if you have to defend a lot.”
However, he is happy to be judged by his performance on the pitch. “People will see me at Chelsea the way I am and judge me the way they want to.”
Zidane was a role model
He added: “It’s totally different here. With Lille we could have gone to the south of France and people wouldn’t have recognised us. But at Chelsea, the players are at another level.
"Everything has changed for me - the language, the country but it is up to me to adapt.”
Voted France’s young player of the year in 2009 and 2010 and player of the year in 2011 and 2012, he is the first to win both accolades since Zinedine Zidane.
He was used as playmaker, winger and occasionally out-and-out striker.
“I always liked no.10, because I loved Zidane. He was my role model. I always wanted to play like him,” he says and Zidane told the media last year he “would sign Hazard with [his] eyes closed”, a compliment that still makes the young midfielder beam with pride.
“When he started talking about me, I didn’t understand what was happening anymore. But he must have said that about other players, so I knew I had to keep on working.”
A learning curve
Part of that learning curve came in the UEFA Champions League last season. “The game in Moscow against CSKA that we won 2-0 is a fantastic memory,” Hazard says.
“As is the game at Inter, even though we lost. These are great memories because we faced great teams, great players.
"It’s a competition that gets everyone dreaming. Every detail counts at this level. It was good experience. I hope to do better in it.
“It will be complicated, because now Chelsea are the team to beat. The goal is to win the Champions League every year, but we know it is difficult to win it twice in a row.”
Hazard chose Chelsea because they “had the best arguments and he felt wanted.”
He says he has settled well so far, despite a command of English he describes, half-jokingly, as “hazardous.”
Champions Matchday is the official UEFA Champions League magazine and is available on the newstands and in a digital version; fans can also keep up to date on Twitter @ChampionsMagFollow Total Football on Twitter: @TotalFootball12