Chelsea’s Eden Hazard has revealed that some of his opponent’s heavy-handedness caused him to take anti-inflammatories after certain matches last term.
The ex-Lille man was the Premier League’s most fouled player last season, being bundled over 113 times. To put this in perspective, Raheem Sterling was the second most fouled player at 94.
Hazard is one of the greatest drillers of the modern generation. He has a unique talent of holding off players and using his quick feet to eke out opportunity after opportunity as well as a knack for scoring goals too.
This has led to certain defenders either lashing out or simply not being quick enough to keep up with the 24-year-old and mistime their tackles.
“Sometimes I am in pain after games. I have to take some anti-inflammatories or something like that,” Hazard told the London Evening Standard.
“I like to have the ball at my feet and when I have the ball at my feet, I get a lot of kicks. But this is football.
“Whenever I feel pain, I try to keep a smile on my face. Sometimes I get kicked, sometimes not. We have a lot of physio inside and they work very well because we play every three or four days. It’s important.”
Although we see Hazard fouled consistently in every game, the physicality of these tackles is perhaps being underrated by the man in the middle. The Belgium international hopes referees will be that bit more vigilant next season, now they know he’s being singled out.
“If the referees can protect me, it would be good for me. They know now that I get a lot of kicks and I want to be protected by the referee.”
Hazard goes on to say that the one tackle that sticks out as worse than any other last season was from Stoke City’s Phil Bardsley in a game from December last year.
“The worst tackle? Of course against Stoke. Bardsley. When I see the video, it’s crazy.
“But I just play. I always say after the game, if I’ve had a lot of kicks, the game was good.”
It’s a fantastic attitude to see from a player who simply wants to enjoy his football and not be kept down by cynical fouls.
Playing his football that way led to him being named Player of the Year last season, and if he keeps improving the way he plays, it’s hard to see anyone taking that mantle from him, even if he is kicked and kicked in every game.
Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena
Featured image By Ben Sutherland [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons