Happy birthday Hazard! The Chelsea player turns 24 today.
Eden Michael Hazard ( born 7 January 1991) is a Belgian professional footballer, who plays for Chelsea and the Belgium national team. He primarily plays as an attacking midfielder and a winger. Hazard is known for his creativity, speed, and technical ability and has been described as a "fearless, explosive attacking midfielder who can change the game with a turn of pace or a dribble". He has also been described as "a superb passer" and has earned critical acclaim for his playing style, which has led to the media, coaches, and players drawing comparisons to FIFA Ballon d'Or winners Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Hazard is regarded to be one of the best young players in the world.
Hazard is the son of former Belgian footballers and began his football career in Belgium playing for local clubs Royal Stade Brainois and Tubize. In 2005, he moved to France joining first division club Lille. Hazard spent two years in the club's academy and, at the age of 16, made his professional debut in November 2007. He went on to become an integral part of Lille under manager Rudi Garcia, racking up over 190 appearances. In his first full season as a starter, he won the National Union of Professional Footballers (UNFP) Young Player of the Year award becoming the first non-French player to win the award. In the 2009–10 season, Hazard captured the award again becoming the first player to win the award twice. He was also named to the league's Team of the Year.
In the 2010–11 season, he was a part of the Lille team that won the league and cup double and, as a result of his performances, was named the UNFP Ligue 1 Player of the Year becoming the youngest player to win the award. Hazard was also given the Bravo Award by Italian magazine Guerin Sportivo for his performances during the 2010–11 season. In June 2012, after over eight years at Lille, Hazard departed the club, amid much transfer speculation, to join English club Chelsea.
Hazard is a Belgium international, having represented his nation at under-17 and under-19 level. Prior to starring for the senior team, he played on the under-17 team that qualified for the 2007 UEFA European Under-17 Football Championship and 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup. Hazard made his senior international debut in November 2008, at the age of 17 years and 316 days, in a friendly match against Luxembourg. Nearly three years after his debut, Hazard scored his first international goal against Kazakhstan in October 2011. He has since earned 50 caps, and was a member of the Belgian squad which reached the quarter-finals of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.