Real Madrid forward Eden Hazard has disclosed that Didier Drogba contacted him, and urged him to join Chelsea from Lille, while Gervinho – Drogba’s Ivorian teammate – acted as a go-between.
Hazard was having a good 2011/12 season in Ligue 1 having scored 20 goals in 38 league appearances, and in the process drew interest from some Premier League clubs.
Manchester United and Manchester City had reportedly already made overtures for the Belgian when Drogba led Chelsea’s approach.
A call from Drogba, via Hazard’s former Lille teammate Gervinho’s mobile phone saw Chelsea elbowing out the Manchester clubs for the then 21-year-old’s signature, a development which is said to have angered then United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
‘Suddenly Gervinho’s phone rang in the dressing room near Lille. It was Drogba on the line. He insisted that he tell me, “I need to talk to him”’ Hazard told Het Laatste Nieuws.
‘Drogba said to me, “You have to come to Chelsea.” At that moment I was still in doubt. Chelsea were not doing well in the Premier League.
‘They wouldn’t play Champions League the following year. [But] After that final [Chelsea’s Champions League triumph], the choice was made quickly.’
After Drogba’s call, Hazard then met up with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and also had a discussion with former Blues coach Roberto Di Matteo, before completing a move to Stamford Bridge.
‘I had a good conversation with the coach, Roberto Di Matteo. Purely about football,’ continued Hazard.
‘My position. I knew I would easily adapt. London, close to home, not too far from Lille.
‘[Kevin] De Bruyne had played there, Romelu [Lukaku] was around. There were enough French speakers. I knew I would play enough. I was only sad that he, Drogba, decided to leave.’
Hazard was to be a direct replacement for Drogba who was leaving for Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua.
But the two were reunited during Drobga’s second stint at Chelsea two seasons later.
Hazard completed seven seasons in London marked by two Premier League titles as well as the 2014/15 PFA Players’ Player of the Year award before joining Real Madrid last summer.
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