When Eden Hazard dropped the most obscene skill of all time – with an American football
Eden Hazard retires with a legacy as not only one of football’s great wingers, but also one of, if not the most aesthetically pleasing players to ever take to the pitch.
The Belgian dazzled audiences with his nauseating feints, turns and twists during his best years, infuriating Premier League defenders while simultaneously schmoozing crowds one weekend at a time with his rather obscene skill level.
With some, you can simply tell they were born with the attributes they possess. Johan Cruyff and the Cruyff turn. Cristiano Ronaldo and the chop. Mesut Ozil and the bounce.
But with Hazard, it felt like he had an entire arsenal of those sorts of signature moves. Watching him felt like we were watching someone who was quite literally kicking around a football from the minute he could walk, with how freakishly comfortable he was with the ball at his feet.
Mercurial is an understatement when talking about the Belgian. At his best, he was breathtaking. At his worst, an absolute nightmare to watch if he’s on your team. His 356-day goal drought, early peak and demise after a record move to Real Madrid are all testament to that.
When you can manipulate a ball like the Belgian does, though, absolutely none of that stuff matters. None of it.
Peaks and troughs can do one. Form can sod off out the window and never come back. We’re looking at a bloke who could probably juggle the moon given a chance to do so and fire it top bins afterwards.
Hazard was a pure technician and an artist in possession. He might have called time on his career, but we’ll never ever tire of watching back clips of him dancing his way around the pitch, shrugging off opposition players and threading the ball around like he has magnets in his boots.
The juggling the moon idea was meant to be hyperbole, but after seeing what he could do with an egg-shaped American football while at Chelsea, we’re rethinking everything we know about physics.
Never forget when Eden Hazard did THIS 🤯
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) October 10, 2023
Send his feet off to a lab for research when he passes away. And his brain, too. We need to figure out the formula, because he’s superhuman.
Seriously, is that even real? Because manipulating the most ridiculously-shaped ball in all of sport – sorry NFL fans, but it’s true – with such ridiculous ease shouldn’t be possible.
After watching both Willan and Jorginho struggle to keep any kind of control, Hazard, juiced up to the heavens in swagger with his rolled-up tracksuit bottoms and socks look, takes the ball and seamlessly juggles it as though it’s on a string, before rifling it against the crossbar from distance.
It might well be too good to be true and if it is, it’s as heartbreaking a moment as finding out Ronaldinho’s iconic crossbar ad wasn’t real.
But real or not, it’s a clip that could only feel genuine because of the man stealing the show in it. If there was any footballer on the planet capable of such absurdity, it’s the Belgian.
Hazard’s fanciful feet were often football’s answer to pantomime and the suspension of disbelief, because you often found yourself unable to comprehend the stunts he’d pull off.
By Mitch Wilks