Hazard: Why I stopped playing

Photo: Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Eden Hazard made a shock decision to quit the national scene, after the World Cup in Qatar.

Hazard started Belgium’s first two games at the tournament in Qatar but was dropped to the bench for the third game, as they crashed out at the group stage.

In a recent interview with Belgian publication, HLN, Hazard revealed that he made his decision to retire after the World Cup, following the European Championships in 2021.

He said: “I knew for some time that I would stop after the World Cup. The performance in Qatar was not decisive for my decision.

“Of course it is a pity how it turned out, but my decision was made in advance. It was just time to stop.

“I first started thinking about it after the European Championships. I had done my best to be fit in time after my ankle injury. Unfortunately, I couldn’t play in the quarter-final loss to Italy and that really made a mental difference.

“I also play football in Madrid with Toni Kroos. He quit the German national team two years ago and he told me that when others have international commitments, he could take advantage of that time to enjoy with his family.”

Hazard also admitted he felt that a need for a ‘new generation’ of Belgian players to take the stage.

He added: “Meanwhile, new guys knocked on the door with the national team.

“Not playing at Real, then joining the Red Devils and playing football. I didn’t like that, especially because the new generation deserves to play.”