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Lille's pocket-sized pacemaker

Published: Saturday 20 March 2010, 10.41CET
A centimetre taller than Lionel Messi, LOSC Lille Métropole midfielder Eden Hazard is a proven match-winner, with his captain Rio Mavuba saying: "He is a great player with incredible talent."
by Christian Châtelet & Matthew Spiro
from Paris
Published: Saturday 20 March 2010, 10.41CET

Lille's pocket-sized pacemaker

A centimetre taller than Lionel Messi, LOSC Lille Métropole midfielder Eden Hazard is a proven match-winner, with his captain Rio Mavuba saying: "He is a great player with incredible talent."

Name: Eden Hazard
LOSC Lille Métropole
Debut: 24/11/07 v AS Nancy-Lorraine (Ligue 1)
Position: attacking midfielder
Nationality: Belgian
Date of birth: 07/01/91

A centimetre taller than Lionel Messi at 170cm, Hazard is a speedy player with the ability to decide games with a shot or a killer pass. Discovered by AFC Tubize, he moved to France to join Lille's academy in 2005, graduating to the first team in late 2007 and becoming a regular under coach Rudi Garcia the following season.

After scoring four goals in 30 league games in 2008/09, he was voted Ligue 1's young player of the year and has already matched his goals tally in this, his second full campaign, as well as extending his contract until 2014. His fortuitous free-kick helped Lille win 1-0 at home against Liverpool FC in the UEFA Europa League round of 16, but a rampaging run and finish against Genoa CFC in the group stage was a better representation of the talents of a player already capped ten times by Belgium. Also courting attention is Eden's younger brother Thorgan, 16, who is on the books of Lille's domestic rivals RC Lens.

Breakthrough game:
Lille 3-2 Olympique Lyonnais
04/03/09, French Cup

Hazard was the star of the show, setting up his side's first and last goals – for Michel Bastos and Nicolas Fauvergue respectively – and scoring the second himself as Lille eliminated the cup holders.

He says:
"It was a free-kick out wide. Usually Yohan [Cabaye] or Ludovic [Obraniak] take them, but they'd gone off and the coach said: 'Leave the free-kicks for Eden'. So I took it, nobody touched it and it went in, which is great for us. I'm going through a good spell at the moment; I feel good. I hope that my good form continues and that Lille keep on winning."
After scoring against Liverpool on 11 March

"It was strange playing; I was more used to watching them on TV."
On making his international debut for Belgium against Luxembourg at the age of just 17 years and 316 days.

"My style? First of all I'm the guy who links up with his team-mates. Sometimes I also like to skip past one or two lads, but I don't succeed every time."
On his adventurous playing style.

They say:
"He can do even better. He has the quality for that. When Hazard is at his best, he can do excellent things. He has speed and power, but he is not at his maximum yet."
Belgium coach Dick Advocaat after the friendly against Croatia on 3 March

"It's important for us to have players who came through our academy, but keep cool with him; we have to so he can keep his feet on the ground."
Lille coach Rudi Garcia

"He can do everthing technically, but where he makes the difference is that he is very fast. Speed is the difference between a good player and a great one."
Lille assistant coach and former player Pascal Planque

"Eden is doing a great job. With Gervinho out injured, he is the player who holds the key to our attacking play. He was already an important player, but now he is adding goals to his game. Eden is producing the goods. We know he's a great player with a lot of talent, but it's great that he is showing it in the big games.
Lille captain Rio Mavuba after the first-leg win against Liverpool

"Everyone was thrilled by him from the start. He was a great prospect, but he also made a huge effort to get to grips with his new life as a professional."
François Vitau, head scout of Lille

Last updated: 20/03/10 9.58CET

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