The end of an era: Eden Hazard retires from football

Belgian football sensation Eden Hazard has officially called time on his career at the age of 32. The announcement was made via his Instagram account, ending months of speculation about his future in the sport.

Hazard's retirement had been rumoured since Belgium's early exit from the World Cup in Qatar at the end of 2022. That disappointing performance marked the end of the country's golden generation, which peaked with a third-place finish at Russia 2018. Like many of his contemporaries, Hazard decided to end his international career soon afterwards.

But the Belgian's career at Real Madrid was not going well either. The Spanish club paid a record 115 million euros for his services. Despite his status as one of the most expensive footballers in history, Hazard never managed to make his mark in Spain. He left Madrid having made just 76 appearances, scoring seven goals and providing 12 assists.

Best in the world

With recent disappointments, it is easy to forget why Eden Hazard was once considered one of the best footballers in the world, mentioned in the same breath as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

He first came to prominence as a 17-year-old with LOSC Lille. He helped the team win the French league and cup in 2011 and was voted the league's best player two years in a row. This put him on the radar of the best clubs in the world. Soon after, he was snapped up by Chelsea.

It was in London that he would realise his true potential. He played for the club for seven years, winning two Premier Leagues, two Europa Leagues and an FA Cup. He is regarded by Chelsea fans as one of the club's most legendary players, making 245 appearances and scoring 85 times.

During his time at Chelsea, Hazard was recognised as one of the best players in the game by both critics and peers. He was voted the Premier League's best player in 2015 and was named one of FIFA's 11 best players in 2018.

"I have had wonderful managers, coaches and teammates throughout my career. I would like to thank them for the great times we had together. I will miss you all"

An outstanding performance at the 2018 World Cup increased his status even more. Hazard was one of the best players of the tournament, leading Belgium to a third-place finish. He also finished runner-up for the Golden Ball, awarded to the world's best player.

In retrospect, that year was the highlight of his career. After his move to Real Madrid, he struggled with ankle injuries. Fans eventually turned on him, blaming him for a perceived lack of effort. Admittedly, Hazard never had the work ethic of the likes of Messi and Ronaldo. He did not see football as work: above all else, he wanted to have fun.

"I have been able to realise my dream," Hazard wrote on Instagram on Tuesday. "I have played and had fun on many pitches around the world. I have had wonderful managers, coaches and teammates throughout my career. I would like to thank them for the great times we had together. I will miss you all.”



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