Former Chelsea and Real Madrid star Hazard retires
BRUSSELS (AP) — Eden Hazard is putting an end to a 16-year injury-hit career marked by great success at club level and unfulfilled promise with the Belgium national team's “Golden Generation.”
The 32-year-old Hazard announced his retirement from all soccer on Tuesday after more than 700 matches and two Premier League titles during his time with Chelsea. Before injuries slowed him down, Hazard was often unstoppable on the field with his quick pace, creativity and super dribbling skills.
The widely admired player had already retired from international soccer after his country’s aging generation of players was eliminated from the World Cup in the group stage last year.
“You must listen to yourself and say stop at the right time,” said Hazard, who had been without a club since his contract with Real Madrid expired in June. “I was able to realize my dream. I have played and had fun on many pitches around the world.”
Hazard won eight trophies with Madrid, including the Champions League and two Spanish League titles, but his time in Spain was marred by injuries — including a fracture in his right foot during his first season — and coincided with his decline.
After starting his professional career with French club Lille, where he won the league and cup double, Hazard moved to Stamford Bridge in 2012. He spent seven seasons with Chelsea, becoming a fans' favorite with his 110 goals in 352 games.
In addition to the two Premier League titles, he also helped Chelsea win the Europa League twice, and the FA Cup and League Cup once.
“During my career I was lucky to meet great managers, coaches and teammates — thank you to everyone for these great times, I will miss you all,” Hazard said. “I also want to thank the clubs I have played for: LOSC, Chelsea and Real Madrid; and thank the RBFA for my Belgian selection."
At international level, Hazard made his debut with the national team in 2008 at the age of 17. He made 126 appearances and scored 33 goals.
He was part of the so-called Golden Generation of Belgian players who were tipped to win a major title but could ultimately only make it to the semifinals of the 2018 World Cup and repeatedly failed at other international tournaments.
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