Well, this is it, the final appearance of Eden Michael Hazard in a Chelsea shirt.
The Europa League final will more than likely, be Hazard’s final bow, which perhaps, a fitting end to his Chelsea career that failed to reach the heights that had inspired him to sign in the first place.
Back in the summer of 2012, Hazard was Europe’s most sought after player. Having taken Lille to the Ligue Un title in 2011, winning player of the year on the way, Hazard had attracted attention from all over Europe.
This coincided of course, with our magical night in Munich, where we lifted that famous European trophy.
Hazard tweeted “I’m signing for the European champions” and a new era was about to begin.
Or so it should have.
The side that lifted the Champions League was coming to its end. The key players, Petr Cech, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba where coming towards the end of their careers.
Hazard was to be the man to take Chelsea forward and further establish their dominance at the top of Europe’s football table.
His signing was joined over the next couple of years by the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne and Mohammed Salah. How different would our team look if they had stayed alongside Hazard?
This is why a Europa League final is a perfect match to Hazard’s Chelsea career. In his seven years we’ve barely threatened in the Champions League, and that’s a real shame.
A player like Hazard should’ve been playing in a side challenging in the Champions League. In that sense, we’ve let Hazard down.
Instead of supplementing him with top quality players, we’ve relied on him to drag us out of the dirt on more than one occasion.
That’s where Hazard has shown his quality, the fact that on more than one occasion he’s taken us to silverware.
In 2014/2015, Hazard won his first Premier League title, along with individually winning the Premier League player of the season, the PFA players player of the season, the FWA player of the season.
And again in 2016/2017 season, alongside the genius of N’golo Kante, Hazard was once more a key part in Chelsea’s title winning side.
Year on year, Hazard has continued to grow and improve, and is without doubt the best player in the Premier League.
Mans that’s not just coming from Chelsea supporters. Many pundits agree.
Speaking on Sky Sports, former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher claimed that Hazard was the best in the league.
He said “What I mean by that is, De Bruyne and Salah were the best players last season. I’m talking over a four or five-year period if I think, ‘who’s the man?’ I think he’s fantastic. I think he was the best player at the World Cup. I think he should have won player of the tournament.
“The great thing that I love and say about every top attacking player is they can’t be bullied, they can’t be knocked off the ball. As a defender, I think, ‘can I get at him? Can I wind him up? Can I do this? Can I do that?’ No, he’s too strong.”
Carragher also claimed that Hazard was “too good” for Chelsea. And I’m sad to say that I agree with him.
Hazard deserves to be talked about as the very best in the world and you only do that if you’re challenging for the biggest trophies in the world.
Sadly for us, we’re not at that level. And because of that, we’re going to miss Hazard’s peak.
This is Hazard’s last opportunity to reach the very top and is he likely to do that with us? Not with the transfer ban.
So I don’t begrudge him his move, he deserves it.
He has been an exemplary professional and given us nothing but his very best week in, week out.
If Osgood was the King, then Hazard is most certainly the prince, and it’s sad we’ll never see his ascendancy to the throne.
However we mustn’t be sad it’s over, but thankful that it happened.
Hazard is the best player I’ve seen in a Chelsea shirt at Stamford Bridge, there might be more important players in our history, players might have scored more important goals, but none match his ability and genius on the pitch.
When my son asks me of the great players I’ve seen, Hazard will be right at the very top of the list.
To Eden, thank you so much, I genuinely hope Madrid fulfils your dreams. You’ll always have a home at Stamford Bridge. Let’s end with another European trophy.