Eden Hazard, the Chelsea winger, has urged referees to give him more protection from rough challenges. Hazard, who won the PFA and Football Writers’ Player of the Year last season, revealed that he has had to take anti-inflammatories after some games due to the amount of pain he was suffering.
The Belgium international was the most fouled player in the Premier League last season. He singled out Stoke City’s Phil Bardsley as one of the guilty parties during a League game in December, when a ferocious late tackle led to just a yellow card from referee Neil Swarbrick.
Hazard feels tougher action needs to be taken. He said: “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. Sometimes I am in pain after games. I have to take some anti-inflammatories or something like that. 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, and they work very well because we play every three or four days. It’s important. 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.”
The Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho, has expressed his frustration over the aggressive tactics against Hazard on numerous occasions. the midfielder was on the receiving end of some more wild tackles in Chelsea’s opening pre-season game against the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday night.
The 24-year-old has taken matters into his own hands by getting fitter than ever. He has stepped up his training regime to get physically stronger to cope with the tackles he receives. He added: “I work in training in the gym. I have to work. If I don’t work and do the training, the defenders they kill me. It’s my job. How do I stay calm when I get kicked on the pitch? I’m like this. I don’t speak a lot to the players or the defenders. I just want to play, to dribble something, to do some skills.
“I just want to win the game and my job is to score goals, to create and try to take the advantage against my opponents. I try to play my game, my football and my football is with the ball and I will never change my style of football.”
Despite being crowned the best player in the country by his fellow professionals and the media, Hazard feels he is a long way short of competing with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi for global awards.
He achieved a personal best in a Chelsea shirt of 19 goals as he helped them win the Premier League and Capital One Cup. But he said: “If I want to reach this level [of Messi and Ronaldo], I have to score 40, 50 goals just for one season. I think last season I scored 19. Maybe it’s good but maybe it’s not enough.
“Is it possible? Yes. If they score 60 goals it’s possible. Maybe not in the Premier League but we will see. Maybe. Why not? But my main goal for the season is just to bring a trophy to Stamford Bridge.”
Mourinho has said his player could get to the level of Ronaldo. “That’s a bit of pressure for me!” said Hazard. “But I try to enjoy. It doesn’t matter if I’m the best or not the best. I just want to play and give pleasure on the pitch and to win trophies at the end of the season. [The manager and I] have a very good relationship. He knows I give everything on the pitch and he loves that. When you give for him, he gives back for you.”Reuse content