"It's a dream to be here"

Eden Hazard has barely stopped smiling, it seems, since joining Real Madrid in June. Here he tells Champions Journal why playing for 13-times European champions has always been his goal

WORDS Louis Laffitte & Simon Hart | PHOTOGRAPHY Alex Caparrós

Interview
Eden Hazard gets straight to the point. Indeed, he has barely settled into his seat when he takes the very first question of our interview as his cue to spell out what it means to him to have become a Real Madrid footballer, finally.

“It was in my plans. When I was at Chelsea I already knew that my dream afterwards was to come and play for this club one day. I hadn’t expected to play for Chelsea for seven years but, in the end, it went well and I had the chance to win something every year. I think that’s why I stayed there so long. It’s now a dream for me to be here and I hope to make the most of it.”

There is a smile on his face as he speaks. He exudes calm. And it is impossible to avoid the sense of a man who feels he has found the perfect place. The place, significantly, that made this fabulously skilful footballer, Real Madrid’s new record signing, dream when he was a boy just starting out.

“For me, I think it was the fact that the club is renowned in France and that Zidane played at Real when I started my football career,” he says of that early affection. “So, for me, it was the club. Then there’s the white shirt and the stadium … it’s the best stadium.

“When you’re little and you see all the stars playing together at the same club, it’s amazing,” he goes on, reeling off some of the names he would watch on television in his schoolboy years: Raúl González, Luís Figo, Ronaldo.

And, of course, that man Zidane; today his coach but the player whose wondrous Champions League final goal against Bayer Leverkusen in 2002 got the then 11-year-old Hazard attempting acrobatic volleys in the back garden of his family home in the small town of Braine-le-Comte, southwest of Brussels.

“I re-watched it plenty of times,” he recalls. “Thorgan [his brother] and I tried to copy it out in the garden too, but we never managed it, unfortunately.

We are sitting in an interview room at Madrid’s Valdebebas training ground. The 28-year-old Belgian is dressed casually in short-sleeved shirt and shorts – a navy ensemble with colourful speckles.

On the walls are images of triumphs past: the Cristiano Ronaldo overhead kick that was the Champions League goal of the season in 2017/18. A victory parade with the famous trophy. Images that underline his new team’s special relationship with club football’s most revered prize – not that he needs telling.

“Yes, you feel it just from knowing that this club has won it the most. I think that when you’re at Real Madrid, each year, even though it’s only my first year, when you speak to people, when you speak to the supporters, they expect you to win the Champions League that year. That’s why I think there’s so much expectation in the Champions League and why they’ve won it more than any others.”
“I try to enjoy myself as much as possible out on the pitch. I know that if I do, the results will follow”

He is no stranger to winning things himself, of course. In seven seasons with Chelsea, he collected two Premier League titles plus FA Cup and League Cup winners’ medals. There was also May’s Europa League success on his final appearance in Chelsea blue, against Arsenal in Baku.

“At that time, I still didn’t know that I was leaving. I hoped I would be leaving because I’d done my time at Chelsea but I was thinking that, if it was my last match, of course I wanted to leave – not as a hero, as such – but as a leader of the team and the supporters.” He led all right, scoring two goals and making another in a 4-1 victory.

It was not the first time he had led from the front either. In 2014/15, when he won both the Professional Footballers’ Association’s Player of the Year award and the Football Writers’ Association’s Footballer of the Year prize, Hazard scored the goal against Crystal Palace that won Chelsea the league title. In 2018, his goal decided the FA Cup final against Manchester United.

Overall in his seven years in England’s top flight, he created more chances (595) and completed more dribbles (909) than any other player; 85 goals was not a bad return either.

Yet he was ready for a fresh challenge. And in his mind, he reiterates, it was always going to be in Madrid. “When I arrived [at Chelsea], I was keen to come and play in England before making the move to Real Madrid,” he says, his clarity of purpose striking. “I was 21 when I arrived. I said to myself that I’d spend four or five years as a professional and then move on at 26 or 27. I ended up staying for seven seasons but had seven good years. I think that I’d reached a stage where I needed to leave in order to progress. It was important for me to go and get a taste of something else.”

An assault on the senses might be a better way of describing his unveiling as a Madrid player on 13 June after the signing of a five-year contact. There were 50,000 people at the Santiago Bernabéu to greet him.

“I don’t think I can even describe it in French, I don’t think there’s a word for it,” he reflects. “It feels quite exhilarating and it’s enjoyable, but you also feel a bit impatient because when you see all those people, you want to get playing as quickly as possible so you can be out on the pitch.”

Away from the game, Hazard is something of a home bird – “Even in London, I spent seven years there and didn’t see much of it” – so those Madrid supporters are unlikely to find him out exploring their barrios, but he is ready for a footballing voyage of discovery, starting with sampling more of that “fanatical” fervour felt on his first day.

“At times when I was at Chelsea and we lost, we were disappointed as were the fans, but you never got the feeling that it was a disaster,” he remarks. “That’s different here in Spain. The fans start shouting at you, but that’s also part of their culture.

“Purely the fact of playing in a different league will mean that I’ll learn new things. The playing style is a bit different, as is the preparation for the games. There are things you can learn every day. It’s difficult to say whether I can improve technically or tactically.

“I’m 28 years old now and I’m not going to start saying: ‘I have to do X, Y or Z.’ Of course, when you’re at a club like this, you need to win and you have to score. But, for me, I’ve always behaved in the same way and that’s what I’ll still try to do. I try to enjoy myself as much as possible on the pitch and I know that if I enjoy myself out on the pitch, the results will follow.

“For me, at this great club, I want to try to get people to see me more, to win matches, to score goals. It’s a little bit like what I did at Chelsea, but doing it all over again at Real and going one better if that’s possible.”

One better would, of course, mean winning the Champions League. And the good news for Madridistas is that Hazard seems in the mood to enjoy himself. Not even the injury that made him miss the start of the season was too big a cloud – at least not judging by his willingness to strike a pose (quite a few of them, it turned out) for our photographer.

A different photo, one of Hazard at the Bernabéu on the day of his unveiling, offered another insight into Madrid’s new No7. Joining him in the frame were his mother and father, Carine and Thierry, once both footballers, she in the Belgian women’s top flight, he in Belgium’s second division. And his brothers too: Thorgan, now at Borussia Dortmund; Kylian, who plays for Cercle Brugge; and Ethan, the youngest, who kicks a ball for fun at the family’s local club, Tubize.

“I don’t honestly think that he wants to go on and become a professional,” Eden says. “He’s currently playing for my village team in Braine-le-Comte and he enjoys himself there. At the age of 16, I was already at Lille, Thorgan was already at Lens at 16, and he’s still playing for the village team. I think that he’s happy enough to just play football with his mates.”

For the eldest of the Hazard brothers, it all started with that same feeling of happiness too. “There wasn’t a day that went by that we didn’t play. It didn’t matter if we were feeling ill or if it was raining. Our love for the game comes from the fact that we lived right next to a football pitch and because we’d go and watch our dad play when we were kids. When my uncles and cousins came round to our house, the talk always revolved around football and we played football.

“When I was five or six, all I wanted to do was play football. And then you later really start to get into it when you realise that you’ve got potential, when you receive the player of the tournament award twice, three times and people start to talk about you.

“You say to yourself: ‘I’ve got talent here and I’ve got a chance of going on to become a professional.’ Then you start to follow players. I first started watching football with the 1998 World Cup in France. That’s when I started to watch football. I followed Zidane and Thierry Henry.”

It would be in France that he took his first step on the road, 90km from home in Lille. Over the border, his Belgian accent began to fade, but his footballing development accelerated. “The fact that I’m here, it’s thanks to Lille, that’s absolutely sure,” he notes. “I joined them at 14, I really was a baby. I left when I was 21, I was still a baby but a bit more grown-up, let’s say.”

Aged 20, in his penultimate season, he helped the club win the French league-and-cup double, scoring 12 goals. Lille’s lessons had paid off.“ I was well looked after. The coaches at the academy taught us about the professional world, what life is like – for example, when you’re 18 years old and you get to sleep in your own apartment, your own home. On the pitch, I was lucky enough to have a great team around me, a great coach, and great coaches with the youth teams. It was the whole thing that allowed me to grow, from 14 years old to 21, and to get where I am today.”

And where he is today is at Real Madrid, playing under the very man who created some of the strongest images of his football-watching boyhood: at France 98 and then at Hampden Park, four years later, with the goal that sent him out into the back garden.

“Actually, he’s just the same as what you see on the bench,” Hazard observes. “We’ve been working together for just over a month and I’m happy. I feel like a little kid, not just because of him but also because of the other players. I’m learning every day and I’m getting to know them.”

A little kid. He may be Madrid’s most expensive player ever and a seasoned professional, a veteran of two World Cups with Belgium, but this is genuine: for Eden Hazard, the prospect of running with a ball at his feet around the Bernabéu really is the stuff of dreams.

“It was in my plans. When I was at Chelsea I already knew that my dream afterwards was to come and play for this club one day. I hadn’t expected to play for Chelsea for seven years but, in the end, it went well and I had the chance to win something every year. I think that’s why I stayed there so long. It’s now a dream for me to be here and I hope to make the most of it.”

There is a smile on his face as he speaks. He exudes calm. And it is impossible to avoid the sense of a man who feels he has found the perfect place. The place, significantly, that made this fabulously skilful footballer, Real Madrid’s new record signing, dream when he was a boy just starting out.

“For me, I think it was the fact that the club is renowned in France and that Zidane played at Real when I started my football career,” he says of that early affection. “So, for me, it was the club. Then there’s the white shirt and the stadium … it’s the best stadium.

“When you’re little and you see all the stars playing together at the same club, it’s amazing,” he goes on, reeling off some of the names he would watch on television in his schoolboy years: Raúl González, Luís Figo, Ronaldo.

And, of course, that man Zidane; today his coach but the player whose wondrous Champions League final goal against Bayer Leverkusen in 2002 got the then 11-year-old Hazard attempting acrobatic volleys in the back garden of his family home in the small town of Braine-le-Comte, southwest of Brussels.

“I re-watched it plenty of times,” he recalls. “Thorgan [his brother] and I tried to copy it out in the garden too, but we never managed it, unfortunately.

We are sitting in an interview room at Madrid’s Valdebebas training ground. The 28-year-old Belgian is dressed casually in short-sleeved shirt and shorts – a navy ensemble with colourful speckles.

On the walls are images of triumphs past: the Cristiano Ronaldo overhead kick that was the Champions League goal of the season in 2017/18. A victory parade with the famous trophy. Images that underline his new team’s special relationship with club football’s most revered prize – not that he needs telling.

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“Yes, you feel it just from knowing that this club has won it the most. I think that when you’re at Real Madrid, each year, even though it’s only my first year, when you speak to people, when you speak to the supporters, they expect you to win the Champions League that year. That’s why I think there’s so much expectation in the Champions League and why they’ve won it more than any others.”
“I try to enjoy myself as much as possible out on the pitch. I know that if I do, the results will follow”

He is no stranger to winning things himself, of course. In seven seasons with Chelsea, he collected two Premier League titles plus FA Cup and League Cup winners’ medals. There was also May’s Europa League success on his final appearance in Chelsea blue, against Arsenal in Baku.

“At that time, I still didn’t know that I was leaving. I hoped I would be leaving because I’d done my time at Chelsea but I was thinking that, if it was my last match, of course I wanted to leave – not as a hero, as such – but as a leader of the team and the supporters.” He led all right, scoring two goals and making another in a 4-1 victory.

It was not the first time he had led from the front either. In 2014/15, when he won both the Professional Footballers’ Association’s Player of the Year award and the Football Writers’ Association’s Footballer of the Year prize, Hazard scored the goal against Crystal Palace that won Chelsea the league title. In 2018, his goal decided the FA Cup final against Manchester United.

Overall in his seven years in England’s top flight, he created more chances (595) and completed more dribbles (909) than any other player; 85 goals was not a bad return either.

Yet he was ready for a fresh challenge. And in his mind, he reiterates, it was always going to be in Madrid. “When I arrived [at Chelsea], I was keen to come and play in England before making the move to Real Madrid,” he says, his clarity of purpose striking. “I was 21 when I arrived. I said to myself that I’d spend four or five years as a professional and then move on at 26 or 27. I ended up staying for seven seasons but had seven good years. I think that I’d reached a stage where I needed to leave in order to progress. It was important for me to go and get a taste of something else.”

An assault on the senses might be a better way of describing his unveiling as a Madrid player on 13 June after the signing of a five-year contact. There were 50,000 people at the Santiago Bernabéu to greet him.

“I don’t think I can even describe it in French, I don’t think there’s a word for it,” he reflects. “It feels quite exhilarating and it’s enjoyable, but you also feel a bit impatient because when you see all those people, you want to get playing as quickly as possible so you can be out on the pitch.”

Away from the game, Hazard is something of a home bird – “Even in London, I spent seven years there and didn’t see much of it” – so those Madrid supporters are unlikely to find him out exploring their barrios, but he is ready for a footballing voyage of discovery, starting with sampling more of that “fanatical” fervour felt on his first day.

“At times when I was at Chelsea and we lost, we were disappointed as were the fans, but you never got the feeling that it was a disaster,” he remarks. “That’s different here in Spain. The fans start shouting at you, but that’s also part of their culture.

“Purely the fact of playing in a different league will mean that I’ll learn new things. The playing style is a bit different, as is the preparation for the games. There are things you can learn every day. It’s difficult to say whether I can improve technically or tactically.

“I’m 28 years old now and I’m not going to start saying: ‘I have to do X, Y or Z.’ Of course, when you’re at a club like this, you need to win and you have to score. But, for me, I’ve always behaved in the same way and that’s what I’ll still try to do. I try to enjoy myself as much as possible on the pitch and I know that if I enjoy myself out on the pitch, the results will follow.

“For me, at this great club, I want to try to get people to see me more, to win matches, to score goals. It’s a little bit like what I did at Chelsea, but doing it all over again at Real and going one better if that’s possible.”

One better would, of course, mean winning the Champions League. And the good news for Madridistas is that Hazard seems in the mood to enjoy himself. Not even the injury that made him miss the start of the season was too big a cloud – at least not judging by his willingness to strike a pose (quite a few of them, it turned out) for our photographer.

A different photo, one of Hazard at the Bernabéu on the day of his unveiling, offered another insight into Madrid’s new No7. Joining him in the frame were his mother and father, Carine and Thierry, once both footballers, she in the Belgian women’s top flight, he in Belgium’s second division. And his brothers too: Thorgan, now at Borussia Dortmund; Kylian, who plays for Cercle Brugge; and Ethan, the youngest, who kicks a ball for fun at the family’s local club, Tubize.

“I don’t honestly think that he wants to go on and become a professional,” Eden says. “He’s currently playing for my village team in Braine-le-Comte and he enjoys himself there. At the age of 16, I was already at Lille, Thorgan was already at Lens at 16, and he’s still playing for the village team. I think that he’s happy enough to just play football with his mates.”

For the eldest of the Hazard brothers, it all started with that same feeling of happiness too. “There wasn’t a day that went by that we didn’t play. It didn’t matter if we were feeling ill or if it was raining. Our love for the game comes from the fact that we lived right next to a football pitch and because we’d go and watch our dad play when we were kids. When my uncles and cousins came round to our house, the talk always revolved around football and we played football.

“When I was five or six, all I wanted to do was play football. And then you later really start to get into it when you realise that you’ve got potential, when you receive the player of the tournament award twice, three times and people start to talk about you.

“You say to yourself: ‘I’ve got talent here and I’ve got a chance of going on to become a professional.’ Then you start to follow players. I first started watching football with the 1998 World Cup in France. That’s when I started to watch football. I followed Zidane and Thierry Henry.”

It would be in France that he took his first step on the road, 90km from home in Lille. Over the border, his Belgian accent began to fade, but his footballing development accelerated. “The fact that I’m here, it’s thanks to Lille, that’s absolutely sure,” he notes. “I joined them at 14, I really was a baby. I left when I was 21, I was still a baby but a bit more grown-up, let’s say.”

Aged 20, in his penultimate season, he helped the club win the French league-and-cup double, scoring 12 goals. Lille’s lessons had paid off.“ I was well looked after. The coaches at the academy taught us about the professional world, what life is like – for example, when you’re 18 years old and you get to sleep in your own apartment, your own home. On the pitch, I was lucky enough to have a great team around me, a great coach, and great coaches with the youth teams. It was the whole thing that allowed me to grow, from 14 years old to 21, and to get where I am today.”

And where he is today is at Real Madrid, playing under the very man who created some of the strongest images of his football-watching boyhood: at France 98 and then at Hampden Park, four years later, with the goal that sent him out into the back garden.

“Actually, he’s just the same as what you see on the bench,” Hazard observes. “We’ve been working together for just over a month and I’m happy. I feel like a little kid, not just because of him but also because of the other players. I’m learning every day and I’m getting to know them.”

A little kid. He may be Madrid’s most expensive player ever and a seasoned professional, a veteran of two World Cups with Belgium, but this is genuine: for Eden Hazard, the prospect of running with a ball at his feet around the Bernabéu really is the stuff of dreams.

“It was in my plans. When I was at Chelsea I already knew that my dream afterwards was to come and play for this club one day. I hadn’t expected to play for Chelsea for seven years but, in the end, it went well and I had the chance to win something every year. I think that’s why I stayed there so long. It’s now a dream for me to be here and I hope to make the most of it.”

There is a smile on his face as he speaks. He exudes calm. And it is impossible to avoid the sense of a man who feels he has found the perfect place. The place, significantly, that made this fabulously skilful footballer, Real Madrid’s new record signing, dream when he was a boy just starting out.

“For me, I think it was the fact that the club is renowned in France and that Zidane played at Real when I started my football career,” he says of that early affection. “So, for me, it was the club. Then there’s the white shirt and the stadium … it’s the best stadium.

“When you’re little and you see all the stars playing together at the same club, it’s amazing,” he goes on, reeling off some of the names he would watch on television in his schoolboy years: Raúl González, Luís Figo, Ronaldo.

And, of course, that man Zidane; today his coach but the player whose wondrous Champions League final goal against Bayer Leverkusen in 2002 got the then 11-year-old Hazard attempting acrobatic volleys in the back garden of his family home in the small town of Braine-le-Comte, southwest of Brussels.

“I re-watched it plenty of times,” he recalls. “Thorgan [his brother] and I tried to copy it out in the garden too, but we never managed it, unfortunately.

We are sitting in an interview room at Madrid’s Valdebebas training ground. The 28-year-old Belgian is dressed casually in short-sleeved shirt and shorts – a navy ensemble with colourful speckles.

On the walls are images of triumphs past: the Cristiano Ronaldo overhead kick that was the Champions League goal of the season in 2017/18. A victory parade with the famous trophy. Images that underline his new team’s special relationship with club football’s most revered prize – not that he needs telling.

“Yes, you feel it just from knowing that this club has won it the most. I think that when you’re at Real Madrid, each year, even though it’s only my first year, when you speak to people, when you speak to the supporters, they expect you to win the Champions League that year. That’s why I think there’s so much expectation in the Champions League and why they’ve won it more than any others.”
“I try to enjoy myself as much as possible out on the pitch. I know that if I do, the results will follow”

He is no stranger to winning things himself, of course. In seven seasons with Chelsea, he collected two Premier League titles plus FA Cup and League Cup winners’ medals. There was also May’s Europa League success on his final appearance in Chelsea blue, against Arsenal in Baku.

“At that time, I still didn’t know that I was leaving. I hoped I would be leaving because I’d done my time at Chelsea but I was thinking that, if it was my last match, of course I wanted to leave – not as a hero, as such – but as a leader of the team and the supporters.” He led all right, scoring two goals and making another in a 4-1 victory.

It was not the first time he had led from the front either. In 2014/15, when he won both the Professional Footballers’ Association’s Player of the Year award and the Football Writers’ Association’s Footballer of the Year prize, Hazard scored the goal against Crystal Palace that won Chelsea the league title. In 2018, his goal decided the FA Cup final against Manchester United.

Overall in his seven years in England’s top flight, he created more chances (595) and completed more dribbles (909) than any other player; 85 goals was not a bad return either.

Yet he was ready for a fresh challenge. And in his mind, he reiterates, it was always going to be in Madrid. “When I arrived [at Chelsea], I was keen to come and play in England before making the move to Real Madrid,” he says, his clarity of purpose striking. “I was 21 when I arrived. I said to myself that I’d spend four or five years as a professional and then move on at 26 or 27. I ended up staying for seven seasons but had seven good years. I think that I’d reached a stage where I needed to leave in order to progress. It was important for me to go and get a taste of something else.”

An assault on the senses might be a better way of describing his unveiling as a Madrid player on 13 June after the signing of a five-year contact. There were 50,000 people at the Santiago Bernabéu to greet him.

“I don’t think I can even describe it in French, I don’t think there’s a word for it,” he reflects. “It feels quite exhilarating and it’s enjoyable, but you also feel a bit impatient because when you see all those people, you want to get playing as quickly as possible so you can be out on the pitch.”

Away from the game, Hazard is something of a home bird – “Even in London, I spent seven years there and didn’t see much of it” – so those Madrid supporters are unlikely to find him out exploring their barrios, but he is ready for a footballing voyage of discovery, starting with sampling more of that “fanatical” fervour felt on his first day.

“At times when I was at Chelsea and we lost, we were disappointed as were the fans, but you never got the feeling that it was a disaster,” he remarks. “That’s different here in Spain. The fans start shouting at you, but that’s also part of their culture.

“Purely the fact of playing in a different league will mean that I’ll learn new things. The playing style is a bit different, as is the preparation for the games. There are things you can learn every day. It’s difficult to say whether I can improve technically or tactically.

“I’m 28 years old now and I’m not going to start saying: ‘I have to do X, Y or Z.’ Of course, when you’re at a club like this, you need to win and you have to score. But, for me, I’ve always behaved in the same way and that’s what I’ll still try to do. I try to enjoy myself as much as possible on the pitch and I know that if I enjoy myself out on the pitch, the results will follow.

“For me, at this great club, I want to try to get people to see me more, to win matches, to score goals. It’s a little bit like what I did at Chelsea, but doing it all over again at Real and going one better if that’s possible.”

One better would, of course, mean winning the Champions League. And the good news for Madridistas is that Hazard seems in the mood to enjoy himself. Not even the injury that made him miss the start of the season was too big a cloud – at least not judging by his willingness to strike a pose (quite a few of them, it turned out) for our photographer.

A different photo, one of Hazard at the Bernabéu on the day of his unveiling, offered another insight into Madrid’s new No7. Joining him in the frame were his mother and father, Carine and Thierry, once both footballers, she in the Belgian women’s top flight, he in Belgium’s second division. And his brothers too: Thorgan, now at Borussia Dortmund; Kylian, who plays for Cercle Brugge; and Ethan, the youngest, who kicks a ball for fun at the family’s local club, Tubize.

“I don’t honestly think that he wants to go on and become a professional,” Eden says. “He’s currently playing for my village team in Braine-le-Comte and he enjoys himself there. At the age of 16, I was already at Lille, Thorgan was already at Lens at 16, and he’s still playing for the village team. I think that he’s happy enough to just play football with his mates.”

For the eldest of the Hazard brothers, it all started with that same feeling of happiness too. “There wasn’t a day that went by that we didn’t play. It didn’t matter if we were feeling ill or if it was raining. Our love for the game comes from the fact that we lived right next to a football pitch and because we’d go and watch our dad play when we were kids. When my uncles and cousins came round to our house, the talk always revolved around football and we played football.

“When I was five or six, all I wanted to do was play football. And then you later really start to get into it when you realise that you’ve got potential, when you receive the player of the tournament award twice, three times and people start to talk about you.

“You say to yourself: ‘I’ve got talent here and I’ve got a chance of going on to become a professional.’ Then you start to follow players. I first started watching football with the 1998 World Cup in France. That’s when I started to watch football. I followed Zidane and Thierry Henry.”

It would be in France that he took his first step on the road, 90km from home in Lille. Over the border, his Belgian accent began to fade, but his footballing development accelerated. “The fact that I’m here, it’s thanks to Lille, that’s absolutely sure,” he notes. “I joined them at 14, I really was a baby. I left when I was 21, I was still a baby but a bit more grown-up, let’s say.”

Aged 20, in his penultimate season, he helped the club win the French league-and-cup double, scoring 12 goals. Lille’s lessons had paid off.“ I was well looked after. The coaches at the academy taught us about the professional world, what life is like – for example, when you’re 18 years old and you get to sleep in your own apartment, your own home. On the pitch, I was lucky enough to have a great team around me, a great coach, and great coaches with the youth teams. It was the whole thing that allowed me to grow, from 14 years old to 21, and to get where I am today.”

And where he is today is at Real Madrid, playing under the very man who created some of the strongest images of his football-watching boyhood: at France 98 and then at Hampden Park, four years later, with the goal that sent him out into the back garden.

“Actually, he’s just the same as what you see on the bench,” Hazard observes. “We’ve been working together for just over a month and I’m happy. I feel like a little kid, not just because of him but also because of the other players. I’m learning every day and I’m getting to know them.”

A little kid. He may be Madrid’s most expensive player ever and a seasoned professional, a veteran of two World Cups with Belgium, but this is genuine: for Eden Hazard, the prospect of running with a ball at his feet around the Bernabéu really is the stuff of dreams.

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