Eden Hazard admits he was an Arsenal fan growing up

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Eden Hazard has admitted that he was a fan of Arsenal growing up, following and idolising a number of the Gunners’ French players in the late 1990s and early 2000s before going on to play for London rivals Chelsea for seven years.

Hazard is Belgian but he grew up in the French-speaking part of the country close to the border with France and his own career took off when he joined the youth ranks at Lille at the age of 14.

Eden Hazard
It wasn’t Chelsea that Hazard supported when he was younger | Visionhaus/Getty Images

His love of Zinedine Zidane has already been well documented and is thought to have at least contributed to his desire to link up with the 1998 World Cup winner at Real Madrid. But there were other French players at that time he also enjoyed watching, including Thierry Henry.

“When I was little, the team I watched the most was the French national team. For me, the players I looked up to were Zinedine Zidane and Thierry Henry,” Hazard told magazine On the Front Foot.

“It’s difficult for me to admit because of my relationship with Chelsea, but I really liked the Arsenal team at the time,” he added. “They had players like Robert Pires, [Sylvain] Wiltord and [Patrick] Vieira, so it was mainly French players that I followed growing up.”

Thierry Henry of Arsenal celebrates scoring a goal with team-mate Robert Pires
Hazard looked up to Thierry Henry & Robert Pires | Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Hazard was only 16 when he made his senior Lille debut in late 2007 and became a regular the following season while he was still just 17. He was a key part of the side that won a French domestic double in 2010/11, before a stunning individual campaign in 2011/12 saw him score 22 goals.

Hazard chose to join Chelsea in 2012 after attracting interest from top clubs across Europe. He was regularly Chelsea’s best player and scored 110 goals in 352 appearances for the Blues, while winning two Premier League titles, two Europa Leagues, the FA Cup and League Cup.

He moved to Real Madrid in the summer of 2019 for an initial €100m, but his dream transfer to the Bernabeu has been wrecked by injuries and he has been unable to show his best form thus far.

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