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Long touted as the next Lionel Messi, Eden Hazard has been making a name for himself in France and his native Belgium over recent years – and on Friday he will be looking to announce himself to the wider world.
Hazard has been tipped to go far from the moment he arrived at home-town club R. Stade Brainois at the age of four; on the evidence of a few sessions, one of the coaches would later observe: "I had nothing to teach him". Then, for four seasons from the age of 17, he was a mainstay for LOSC Lille just across the French border, playing a key role as they claimed the double in 2010/11. Now, though, following his summer switch to Chelsea FC, the 21-year-old attacker has a new audience.
"It's totally different," he told UEFA.com. "Even in the United States [where Chelsea toured in July], we are famous.
With Lille we could have gone to the south of France and people wouldn't have recognised us. Chelsea are a very big club. The players are at another level, the academy is at another level. Everything has changed [for me] – the language has changed, the country has changed – it's up to me now to adapt."
The Belgian international has not done badly so far, scoring once, claiming three assists and winning two penalties in three Premier League outings. On Friday he could capture his first silverware for the European champions when they take on Club Atlético de Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup. "They [Atlético] are a great team with great players. I hope it will be a good game and that we win, to claim my first trophy for Chelsea. But we expect nothing less than a tough match against a great team. It will not be easy."
Even getting in the Chelsea side will be difficult, such is their strength in depth, particularly in attacking areas. Yet Hazard says that, at heart, he is a team player: "
I am not here to be a star, to show off. I am here to play for my team-mates." He added: "On a personal level, I hope to play as much as possible, do my best when I am on the pitch, gain the confidence of the coach and repay that confidence." A good showing against Atlético in Monaco would be a good start.
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