His unyielding brilliance on the pitch made prime Eden Hazard the ultimate YouTube compilation footballer. Announcing his retirement from football earlier this month, we look back at the Belgian’s brilliant, yet somehow polarizing career.
Eden Hazard has announced his retirement from professional football. The diminutive winger leaves behind a career with a spectacular resume, having played for European giants Chelsea and Real Madrid after starting his career at Lille, while also contributing so much to football culture with his dazzling play style that inspired countless compilations of his greatest moments.
While many will discuss Hazard’s career accolades, or whether or not he achieved as much with the Belgian national team as was expected, what was truly compelling about him was how he made us feel when watching him in full flow. That feeling is seemingly overlooked in the cold discussions surrounding his potential and almost sudden drop in form after leaving England for Spain.
In a way, Hazard was the perfect footballer for the YouTube generation. It seemed as if every match, he created a new highlight, one that would fit perfectly into a compilation with a title along the lines of “Eden Hazard is Unstoppable” or “Eden Hazard Moves Like Water | Full Highlights” all with a chill beat playing in the background.
His style of play created that, as he seemed to make slaloming runs through the midfield, while gluing defenders to the ground week in and week out. You couldn’t guarantee that he would score or contribute much, but you could always expect that he would have a moment that would make you say, “Wow, he is different.”
It wasn’t just his dazzling play that was so hypnotizing, but also the way he approached the game. When he was playing with confidence, you could see that he simply loved football. He made so much magic that seemed beyond what should have been possible.
Whether it be his audaciously delicate lofted through balls or his curling efforts after cutting in off of the left side, Hazard did things to a football that only people like Messi, Ronaldinho, Neymar and others in that echelon have even considered.
Hazard moved so differently when he had the ball. His low center of gravity made every move seem exaggerated. Similar to Messi, he used this to his advantage and mastered his body feints, moving defenders to the wrong side with the slightest dip of his hips or shoulders and blowing past them like they were training cones at Cobham. After all, one of his most famous moments is when he put multiple Arsenal defenders in a spin-cycle before cooly slotting the ball past Petr Cech.
When you watched Eden Hazard play with confidence, you started to understand what mental freedom looked like. He had the creativity and fearlessness to try things that should be greatly admired. While we probably won’t get to see him in full-flight on the pitch ever again, his career will be immortalized on YouTube forever, and for that, we should be forever grateful.