Is Hazard The Next Zola?
Creating a legacy at a big club like Chelsea, and in a competition like the Premier League is never an easy job. But, when you have already won the PFA Young Player of the Year in your second season, and the PFA Player of the Year, FWA Player of the Year and the Barclays’ Premier League Player of the Season in just your third season, you are definitely on the right track.
Eden Hazard has lit up the Premier League more than once in his three seasons and is definitely a player on whom the Blues have come to depend heavily upon.
Rewinding back to the days of Ruud Gullit in the late 1990s, we can see a similar little magician, with immense talent and skill, running rings around the defenses, lighting up the Premier League in a similar way, scoring fantastic goals, and dropping jaws. That little magician, who went by the name of Gianfranco Zola and wore jersey number 25, too was the creative focal point of that Chelsea team. Zola certainly became a legend in blue, during his 7 years at Chelsea, and comparing his pathway to Hazard’s, it looks like the Belgian is well on his way to emulate him.
After having played three seasons at Chelsea, and finished the last one in style, Eden Hazard compares quite favorably with Zola. In his first 106 matches in the League, Zola had played 7981 minutes, and in this time he had scored 30 goals, scoring after every 266 minutes. Also, Zola had made 24 assists in this time. Hazard, after playing 106 matches in the League, is ahead of the little magician. Hazard has played 8813 minutes in these matches, in which he has scored 37 goals, scoring at every 238 minutes and has also made 26 assists.
Apart from their similarity in height, both players are extremely creative. Both have shown great dribbling ability during their time, going past players and creating havoc in opposition defenses with their trickery and eye for goal. In February 1997, Zola scored a great goal after dribbling several players in the penalty area and slotting the ball past Peter Schmeichel against Manchester United, prompting Alex Ferguson to call him “a clever little so and so”. Eden Hazard has been scoring great goals too, against every big team. His equalizer against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge in the 2013-14 season, and his goal against the Red Devils this season at Stamford Bridge, a match that Chelsea won 1-0, are those that will remain in the memories of the Blues fans for long.
Gianfranco Zola had won the FWA Player of the Year in his first season in England in 1997, becoming the first and only player to do so without having played a full season, since he was signed in November 1996 in the winter transfer window. He was also the first Chelsea player ever to win the accolade. Zola also won Chelsea Player of the Year twice, in 1998-99 and 2002-03. Eden Hazard won the FWA Player of the Year in his third season in 2015, while he won the Chelsea Player of the Year two years consecutively, in 2014 and 2015.
Last year in November at Carlsberg’s Ultimate Football Retreat event at AVANI Sepang Gold Coast in Malaysia, Zola threw his thoughts on Hazard:
“Right now Hazard is doing fantastically well for the club. I think he is the kind of player who will grow in stature and get better and better. So, I will not be surprised if he becomes one of Chelsea’s greatest players in the future.”
Source – FourFourTwo
Zola, in his 7-year spell at Chelsea, won the FA Cup twice, the UEFA Super Cup, the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and the League Cup. Hazard, on the other hand, has managed to win the Premier League, the League Cup, and the UEFA Europa League, in his first three seasons at Chelsea. Hazard is just 24, and has time on his side, and if he is up to his usual tricks and skills, it is only a matter of a few years, before Hazard himself creates a legacy of his own in blue, although many fans will argue that he has already made a significant mark and is taking the right strides towards greatness.
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Edited By: Harshal
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