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Belgians Abroad

The Dukes Of Hazard

It doesn’t take a budding Poirot to work out that Eden Hazard is one of the greatest products to come out of Belgium for some time. We let his No.1 fan Andrew Gibney discuss the entire Hazard clan, and why they are set for stardom…

Belgium may have Albert II as its king but in the coming years the name of Hazard will become as important as Tintin or Poirot in Belgian folklore. Everyone by now of course will know the name of Eden Hazard. The tricky winger currently plays for French Champions Lille and has delighted Ligue 1 crowds for the last three years. No one knows if this title-winning season will be his last although Lille hopes he will stay for just one more season before moving to pastures new.

At only 20 years old Eden is still relatively young and still has some way to go before being classed as one of the best players in Europe. Doubts remain whether he is a help or a hindrance to the national team. Few that have watched him doubt that he will make it to the top. His next move will have a massive say on how far his career can go.

National team manager Georges Leekens has his qualms about Hazard. It is hard for him to leave Eden out of the side but with the emerging talent that Belgium possess and depending on how the national team play, he could be vindicated. There is another side to the argument: they says if a manager can’t find a system to bring the best out of the forward then there must be some deeper rooted problems.

The international career of Eden Hazard does not read as pretty as his time at Lille, after twenty games he has yet to score an international goal. A very surprising stat compared to him time in the youth set-ups. Four goals for the U-17’s and 6 in 9 games for the U-19’s clearly show his talent.

The true promise of the Hazard name is not realised until you look further along the family tree. Eden’s brother Thorgan plays his football a short drive away from his brother club, at Lille’s bitter enemies RC Lens. Undoubtedly talented, the 18 year-old is regarded more as a central midfielder that can get forward and attack.

Yet to play for Lens first team, he did find himself in the playing squad for the game against Bordeaux on May the 11th. With Lens’ fate was already sealed Thorgan didn’t manage to gain any playing time. One of the best supported teams in France will play in Ligue 2 next season, and the talk is that Thorgan will finally gain some first team football.

Having played through the various levels of the Belgian youth set-up, he has made 24 appearances up to U-18 level and has recently begun playing for the U-19’s.  After three games he already found the net with his first goal. Hopefully he will gain first team experience in the next twelve months and who knows how soon he could be receiving calls to the U21 and full national sides.

Thorgan has been described as a “technically gifted player who can settle the match by himself with ease” by youth coach Eric Assadourian and even his older brother has claimed that Thorgan is the more talented of the two. A scary prospect indeed.

If two Hazards aren’t enough next in-line is 15 year-old Kylian. Come the 5th of August, young Kylian turns 16 and will move from Belgian club Tubize and sign a youth contract with Lille. It seems the youngster’s family had a disagreement with the Tubize staff and Kylian left to train with Eden’s club before the deal can be signed in August.

Michel Seydoux, the Lille chairman has himself confirmed the deal for Kylian. It could be that the same year Eden leaves that Lille still have a Hazard on their books. Currently Kylian has been spending every Thursday at Lille’s Luchin training centre and will train with the U19’s once the school holidays start.

So we already know of Eden’s talents and Lille fans will be sad to see him go eventually, the loss could be cushioned by the promise of greatness from Kylian. Lens fans should take solace in the fact they are playing Ligue 2 football next season by the fact they will have their own Hazard to cheer on.

The legacy isn’t quite complete yet. Did we mention that the fourth brother Ethan is also a footballer?

 

Andrew Gibney is the orchestrator of his fine website gibfootballshow, complete with a fantastic podcast that I may appear from time to time. He’s also a great follower of all things Lille and Ligue 1. French Football Weekly is the place for all that.

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