How I steer clear from injuries-Hazard

How I steer clear from injuries-Hazard

Sunday, March 15, 2015 8:44 am

Eden Hazard

Eden Hazard

By Rupert Cane

By the end of this week Eden Hazard will have made the 400th appearance of his professional career, a quite remarkable total considering he is only 24 years of age.

To mark that achievement, the official Chelsea website sat down with our brilliant Belgian to find out how he has done it…

Eden Hazard turned 24 this January. Against West Ham 10 days ago, he scored his 100th career goal. Depending on whether you count his appearance for Belgium in a World Cup warm-up game last May, against Luxembourg, as a competitive one – FIFA don’t because seven substitutions were made – he either played his 400th game against PSG or he will do so tomorrow, against Southampton.

It is a figure that very, very few players reach by his age, and one that is attainable only by featuring for club teams that go far in cup competitions, and regularly for your national team. He made his Belgium debut at 17.

‘I don’t know, honestly,’ is Hazard’s response when asked if there is a secret to staying clear of injury. It is obvious, considering his talent, why he has always been selected – for Lille, for Chelsea, for Belgium.

‘I think it’s natural,’ he ponders further. ‘It’s like Messi, he’s almost never injured. Ronaldo is the same. Maybe it’s down to a little bit of luck. When I was younger I did judo, so maybe it’s that, I don’t know.’

Judo was, Hazard explains, a means of getting out of doing his homework – in the short-term, at least. He did it for one year and in that time learned how to land on the floor safely, pretty imperative considering how often he is kicked to the ground by a beleaguered and bewitched opponent, but he would rather be out on the pitch practising than doing work in the gym.

‘I like to play, play, play. It’s easier to get in the rhythm that way. It’s good to get days off and, in the summer, holidays are important, but when I start to play again I don’t want to stop, big games – bah bah bah. I can reach a good level that way.’

Hazard cites his debut against Wigan, back in August 2012, and the game in which he scored a hat-trick, versus Newcastle last season, as two Chelsea matches that stick out in his mind as being particularly special.

“I try to play every game like it’s my last. I don’t want to stop playing football and have any regrets.”

But what of his very first appearance in the professional game, for Lille against Nancy, in November 2007? He casts his mind back to when he was only 16 years old.

‘I was a substitute and I came on to the pitch at the same time as Kevin Mirallas [now his Belgium team-mate]. I think there were 10 minutes left and I touched the ball about three or four times!

‘We lost 2-0 so it was not a good result, but to get that first experience with a professional team on the pitch after training with them was special.

‘When you are young I think you feel a little bit more pressure before a game because of your age. Now it’s something natural, something normal. You learn everything with experience – for example, that you can’t play well every single game.’

Both Hazard’s parents were footballers and with three little brothers all at professional clubs, there’s no doubt it runs in the family.

‘I spoke a lot with my father after games when I was young,’ he confirms. ‘I can tell you he knows everything about football. He said if I was good or bad. He knew. A lot of times he said to me I played badly – obviously that wasn’t true, I was always good!

‘It’s different now. When he comes here we have a great time together, we speak a lot but we try to forget football. We speak about family, the kids, that kind of thing.

‘My Mum was always very positive and said I played very well even if I didn’t. Now she gets a little bit nervous when I play football. She says she can’t stay in front of the television or in the stadium when I’m playing; she has to go somewhere or do something. She gets too nervous. But she always says the other team was not good, you were good.’

If he were tasked with passing on advice now, as his parents did in his youth, Hazard would tell any youngster striving to make it in the game two things.

First, work hard. Second, enjoy every moment you can when you are on the pitch. Football is the beautiful game, after all.

Of his 400 (four hundred!) games, 152 have been for Chelsea, and 54 for his country. The rest were at Lille. Can he believe he has already reached such a figure? He laughs.

‘No! Not this quickly. But it’s good. I am 24 years old now, 400 games – it’s not for everybody.

‘I try to play every game like it’s my last. I try to give everything. I don’t want to stop playing football and have any regrets. I hope I can do 400 more.’

So do we, Eden. So do we.

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