Eden Hazard on not wanting to be Ronaldo, joining Real Madrid overweight & why Los Blancos are ‘conceited’

Former Real Madrid star Eden Hazard has today provided a fascinating insight into his time spent in Spain.

Winger Hazard, of course, linked up with Real back in 2019, in a hefty 115 million transfer from Premier League giants Chelsea.

The Belgian arrived with understandable pressure on his shoulders, widely regarded as one of world football’s finest in his role.

To say that Hazard subsequently failed to live up to expectations during his time at the Santiago Bernabéu, though, would be something of an understatement.

All told, across his four-year stint with Los Blancos, the Belgian international managed a measly 30 La Liga starts, giving rise to a grand total of four goals.

Boasting unquestionable ability, Hazard was, as a result, singled out for inevitable criticism during his time in Madrid, often the butt of the joke on the part of opposing fans.

Speaking in an interview with France Football (as cited by Sport), Hazard, in turn, was this weekend at long last afforded the opportunity to have his say on what exactly led to his sudden fall from grace.

And the 33-year-old – now without a club – went on to provide a whole host of reasons for why he and Real Madrid just didn’t quite seem to click as a pairing.

Below, check out some of the most noteworthy:

“With Chelsea I had just finished a tough season, one of the best of my career. I said to myself: “Now that I’m at Real, this is perhaps the last vacation I’ll be able to enjoy.” And I let myself go as I let myself go every summer. Seven years in England, without a break at Christmas, giving everything, so that when I had three or four weeks of vacation I could eat barbecues, drink rosé wine and all that. And that’s what allowed me to restart and start again. Then, at Real, things went wrong and that’s it. I’m not going to say that I was abusing food. I didn’t pay attention to it. But I didn’t go to McDonald’s every day. You don’t last sixteen years as a professional like that. I didn’t give it any importance. I like to eat with friends and have a drink. I spend the day before a game eating at home. The diet sucks, it’s useless. Well, it’s fine if you want to play until you’re 40. I knew that wouldn’t be the case for me.”

He continued:

“If I had done the Cristiano [Ronaldo] thing, it wouldn’t have been me. After training, submerging myself for an hour in the cold bath, no. Leave me alone, with my friends, we go home, we play cards, we have a beer. I played for two hours with my children in the garden. It was my recovery. If I had been like Cristiano, that is the example of a good soccer player, there are others, I would have burned myself out. I didn’t go to the gym every three days, I didn’t do three hours of physiotherapy to recover.

“Real is the biggest club of all. It’s complicated to play. Maybe I needed to practice more. I also had the wrong injuries at the wrong times. The operation, the installation of the plate… I come back, I’m in pain, I’m forcing myself. Ancelotti arrives. Good preparation, I play well. But my body, the pain, the injuries. I lost my place, then my confidence, then my desire. I was sad for the fans, disappointed for them. When I arrived, they were full of hope. I feel that I’ve let them down. I want to tell them, ‘Hey, it’s not my fault, my body gave up. I tried, it didn’t work. I’m sorry’.”

Hazard concluded:

“Since I was little I was a fan of Zidane. There was Zidane, so I liked Real. The Bernabéu is special. Real Madrid is a different club, it is a slightly conceited club and I am not like that. Even the way of playing did not suit me, compared to other clubs. But it was my dream. I couldn’t stop my career without coming here.”

Conor Laird | GSFN

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