Eden Hazard has admitted that he physically let himself go ahead of his first season at Real Madrid after becoming one of the most expensive players in the club’s history.
Having completed a transfer that started at €100m before add-ons, Hazard was criticised for seemingly reporting for pre-season overweight and in a less than stellar physical condition.
His justification was that he was used to unwinding each summer and knew that, having signed in early June several weeks before pre-season began, he wouldn’t get another chance for a break.
“I said to myself, ‘Now that I’m at Real Madrid, this is perhaps the last vacation I’ll be able to take…’ And I let go of myself like I let go of myself every summer,” the 33-year explained to L’Equipe.
“Seven years in England, without a break at Christmas, giving everything, so when I have three or four weeks of vacation…’Don’t bother me’…barbecues, rosé wine…all that. And that’s what allowed me to reset myself to start again. Then, Real, it went wrong and that’s it.”
The Belgian went on to address accusations from Madrid fans the Spanish media that he didn’t work hard enough, admitting there were times when he struggled in training but insisting he could never have made it to the level that he did without putting in the effort.
“They say I was a slacker. But I haven’t spent 16 years [as a professional] without training,” he said.
“It’s true that some mornings I arrived without sleeping well, not feeling like it, no desire. When it’s like that, I show it. Don’t give me the ball. I don’t move. And I don’t move for an hour. An hour of tactics? “Can I go with the physio?”‘