Eden Hazard has signed a new contract at Chelsea FC until 2020, confirming the Belgium playmaker's stellar status, and we look at the 24-year-old's manifold feats.
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Eden Hazard is set to take his association with Chelsea FC into the next decade after signing a five-and-a-half-year contract and there is little doubt the Belgium playmaker is established as one of the world's best at the age of 24.
It is eight years since a teenage Hazard first announced himself on the international stage and UEFA.com tracks the key moments in his career from Tubize to London, via Lille and Brazil.
The son of RAA Louviéroise player Thierry Hazard, Eden was developed at local club AFC Tubize before crossing the border to LOSC Lille. But in May 2007 he was back in Tubize for the opening game of the UEFA European Under-17 Championship, where Hazard starred and coolly converted a penalty as Belgium held the Netherlands 2-2 en route to the semi-finals.
"It's really nice to come back to the place where I spent five years and to see all the familiar faces again," he told UEFA.com. "When I looked around the stadium it looked as if the only people in the stands were friends and family."
Belgium were thwarted in the semis by a Spain side containing future Premier League rivals David de Gea and Bojan Krkić, though Hazard did create a goal and then convert in the penalty shoot-out. "Hazard is a very good player, who may have a beautiful future," coach Bob Browaeys predicted.
Following those finals, Hazard signed his first professional contract at LOSC, breaking into the reserves, and after travelling to South Korea for the FIFA U-17 World Cup he made his senior bow in a 16 November 2007 friendly against FC Bruges – followed eight days later by a Ligue 1 debut.
An occasional substitute in 2007/08, the next season Hazard was promoted permanently to the seniors by Rudi Garcia and a superb long shot against AJ Auxerre that September not only helped turn a 2-1 deficit into a late 3-2 win, but made him the Lille's youngest ever goalscorer and cemented his position in the team.
Hazard's LOSC performances did not go unnoticed by Belgium coach René Vandereycken, who called him up, saying: "Hazard has a lot of talent and deserves this." On 18 November 2008, the 17-year-old earned his first cap against Luxembourg. Now a fixture in the squad, the following August he was a starter for the first time under new boss Dick Advocaat, who made Hazard an important part of his side.
Ups and downs
Hazard had a fine 2009/10 campaign, aiding LOSC to fourth place – only just pipped to UEFA Champions League qualification – and the UEFA Europa League round of 16, where he struck the first-leg winner against Liverpool FC. He was named Ligue 1's young player of the year for the second season running, narrowly missed out to Lisandro for the main prize.
However, 2010/11 did not go so well initially, as early in the season he was benched by club and country, admitting: "I wouldn't say I began doubting my abilities, but I definitely went through a really patchy spell." Yet by October he was back in the goals and inspired LOSC to their first double in 64 years, Hazard becoming the youngest Ligue 1 player of the year ever.
Road to Stamford Bridge
LOSC's title meant a UEFA Champions League chance, and Hazard ended 2011 nominated for UEFA.com users' Team of the Year and in summer 2012 was voted Ligue 1's best once again. But having recorded his first career hat-trick in a 4-1 defeat of AS Nancy-Lorraine that May, he was soon on his way to European champions Chelsea FC for around €40m.
Hazard scored on his friendly debut and provided two assists on his Premier League bow against Wigan Athletic FC. Indeed, he was quickly embedded in a Chelsea team undergoing transition, and was rewarded with UEFA Europa League success.
Blues and Brazil
Soon central to the side under new manager José Mourinho, Hazard was outstanding in 2013/14, becoming PFA young player of the year. He was also vital to Belgium ending a 12-year wait to qualify for a FIFA World Cup, creating their winners against Algeria and Russia as they got to the quarter-finals in Brazil.
That form has continued this term, with 13 goals already, and today Chelsea tied him down to a new deal until summer 2020 – when Hazard will still be only 29. "He is already a top player and his evolution has been fantastic," Mourinho said. "He is still very young and he can become the best."
Hazard in numbers
LOSC: appearances 194, goals 50
Chelsea: appearances 147, goals 44
Honours: Ligue 1 (2010/11), Coupe de France (2010/11), UEFA Europa League (2012/13)
Belgium: appearances 54, goals 6
U19: appearances 11, goals 6
U17: appearances 17, goals 2
U16: appearances 4, goals 2
U15: appearances 5, goals 1
Feats: 2007 UEFA European U17 Championship semi-finals, 2014 FIFA World Cup quarter-finals.