Eden Hazard will suffer same fate as Jose Mourinho when he returns to Chelsea with Real Madrid

For all of the drama of a Champions League semi-final first leg towards Real Madrid final Wednesday, there was a drama inside the drama. Two former Chelsea gamers have been pitted towards their former teammates. Their tales couldn’t be extra completely different.

Thibaut Courtois signed for Chelsea on July 26, 2011, from Genk for a price of £8.06 million on the age of 19. A day later he was loaned to Atletico Madrid.

The younger Belgian was seen by the Blues as the inheritor obvious to Petr Cech and would spend the following three seasons excelling on the La Liga facet.

Courtois returned to Chelsea in the summertime of 2014 however not after the furore prompted when he was ‘allowed’ by UEFA to compete towards his guardian membership within the semi-final of that season’s Champions League.

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Courtois carried out admirably over the 2 legs; he shut Chelsea out within the dwelling leg and restricted them to a Fernando Torres purpose on the Bridge, the place Atleti ran out convincing 3-1 winners.

Ironically, Cech, the person Courtois was destined to exchange, was injured within the first leg after solely 18 minutes and was changed by Mark Schwarzer.

In Courtois’ first season at Chelsea, he usurped Cech, chalking up 39 appearances, a Premier League title, a League Cup, and 16 clear sheets.

His second marketing campaign was tougher, being despatched off twice and affected by a number of accidents. Nevertheless, he’d seen off Cech, who departed for Arsenal, and had established himself as Chelsea’s first-choice goalkeeper and among the best on this planet.

All appeared to be going to plan. Chelsea secured their second league title in three seasons in 2017 as the ‘palpable discord’ of the final days of Mourinho’s fractious tenure developed into Antonio Conte’s reign.

However, all was not effectively, as we quickly came upon. Courtois’ capacity to shutout Premier League strikers didn’t prolong to protecting his mouth shut when it got here to speaking to the media.

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Rumours emerged that he was sad in London, that he missed the sunshine and soccer in Spain and, extra importantly, his kids. This present of obvious disloyalty with no signal of retraction irked Chelsea supporters.

It all got here to a head in the summertime of 2018 when Courtois put in a switch request. Chelsea denied the request, understandably, given the problem of changing such a gifted goalkeeper. At which level, Courtois successfully went on strike as he refused to flip up for pre-season coaching. He compelled the membership’s hand who reluctantly let him go to Real Madrid.

Courtois by no means actually endeared himself to Chelsea supporters. And regardless of his clear capacity, he was, like all goalkeepers, inclined to the odd calamity. Many Chelsea followers’ abiding reminiscence of him will be Lionel Messi nutmegging him twice to rating within the Champions League when Barcelona knocked them out 3-0 in 2018.

The Belgian was – and nonetheless is – seen as disloyal, out for himself, and somebody who ought to maintain his opinions to himself. While this can be unfair and irrational, when has equity and rationality had something to do with soccer help?

Eden Hazard’s Chelsea profession couldn’t have been extra completely different than Courtois’.

The then most sought-after younger participant in Europe teased that he would be a part of the following champions of Europe in 2012. And thanks to Chelsea beating Bayern Munich on penalties, he duly arrived at Stamford Bridge in June 2012.

Eden Hazard joined Chelsea from Lille in the summer of 2012

Eden Hazard joined Chelsea from Lille in the summertime of 2012

Over the following seven years, Hazard contributed to two league title wins, two Europa Leagues, an FA Cup and a League Cup. In 352 appearances, Hazard scored 110 targets and claimed 92 assists.

But you may’t sum up Hazard’s Chelsea profession with bland statistics. He was and meant a lot extra to Chelsea supporters than that.

Hazard, in my view, was essentially the most naturally and technically gifted participant I’ve seen play for Chelsea. He was that uncommon participant who might create one thing out of nothing. When he picked up the ball and began to run with it, you’ll be up out of your seat anticipating one thing magical to occur. It usually did.

Three targets stand out within the reminiscence. The run from inside his personal half the place he put the hapless Francis Coquelin on his rear and gave Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny a dizzy spell to rating a exceptional particular person purpose within the 3-1 win over Arsenal in 2017.

The purpose towards Liverpool in what was their solely dwelling defeat of the 2018/2019 season. It got here within the third spherical of the Carabao Cup: Hazard picked the ball up, beat three Liverpool gamers, nutmegging considered one of them to change a one-two with Azpilicueta, then beat one other two Liverpool gamers, once more nutmegging considered one of them, earlier than unleashing a shot to rating within the far nook.

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And the purpose towards West Ham in his final season at Chelsea, in what proved considered one of his final matches at Stamford Bridge. The Belgian picked the ball up and went on a mazy run, dribbling round a number of West Ham gamers earlier than putting a shot into the nook of the online.

There have been so many targets like that – usually out of nothing – when his staff wanted them most.

In his final marketing campaign at Stamford Bridge, Hazard virtually carried the staff on his again and thru drive of will ensured that Chelsea certified for the Champions League and hammered previous rivals Arsenal within the Europa League last.

Everyone was sorry to see him go. He was that uncommon fashionable participant who appeared to play for the love and the enjoyable of it. He would additionally arise to the tough therapy given out by lesser gamers with little or no safety from referees.

It was exhausting to begrudge a much-loved participant the prospect to play for his boyhood staff managed by his idol. There was one thing real about it; he’d finished sufficient for us over seven years at Chelsea and we wished him effectively.

Hazard and Courtois will return to Stamford Bridge within the colors of Real Madrid this Wednesday for the conclusion of the Champions League semi-final.

Christian Pulisic (right) celebrates scoring for the Blues in Madrid. (Image: Angel Martinez/Getty Images).

Christian Pulisic (proper) celebrates scoring for the Blues in Madrid. (Image: Angel Martinez/Getty Images).

It’s Chelsea’s greatest sport for years, one which will inevitably be determined by nice margins. A world-class save by Courtois maybe? A second of particular person magic from Hazard?

Well, I sincerely hope not. To lose to Real Madrid could be dangerous sufficient, however for it to be determined by both Hazard or Courtois could be a tragedy too grim to even contemplate.

Of course, whereas supporters are denied the chance to witness Chelsea’s greatest match for practically a decade due to Covid restrictions, they’re additionally denied one other alternative. An alternative to welcome again two former Chelsea gamers.

What would have been intriguing is the doubtless distinction within the reception that Hazard and Courtois may need obtained.

I’ve little doubt in my thoughts that Hazard would have obtained a rapturous welcome, however Courtois? I believe not.

Since 2000, former Chelsea gamers have normally been afforded heat and respectful welcomes again to Stamford Bridge. Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, Petr Cech, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Juan Mata have been feted with real heat, gratitude and affection.

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It was not at all times the case. In the Seventies, 80s and 90s, Chelsea supporters have been much less beneficiant. Peter Osgood, Alan Hudson, Tommy Langley have been all booed on their return to the Bridge, as was Steve Wicks, Nigel Spackman and any participant daft sufficient to change allegiance to bitter rivals Spurs such as Gordon Durie.

In these days, one of the best a returning hero might hope for was the chorus “Chelsea Reject” ringing round Stamford Bridge.

In the story of two Belgians subsequent week, we’ll miss out on the prospect to welcome again Hazard however will additionally miss out on the prospect to remind Courtois what he walked out on.

But as Mourinho taught us to his personal detriment; when you allow after which face Chelsea in one other staff’s colors you develop into the enemy for 90 minutes. Let’s hope Hazard doesn’t give the supporters trigger to dislike him and Courtois the explanation to dislike him much more.

David Chidgey

David Chidgey is on the Board of the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust and presents the award-winning Chelsea FanCast each Monday & Friday obtainable from Acast, iTunes, Spotify or chelseafancast.com .

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