Hazard Sets Sights on Messi and Ronaldo - The New Indian Express

Hazard Sets Sights on Messi and Ronaldo

Published: 20th March 2014 10:31 AM

Last Updated: 20th March 2014 11:47 PM

Chelsea Midfielder keen to measure himself against world's best  in London Aged nine, Eden Hazard took the chance to get a close-up view of his hero Zinedine Zidane during Euro 2000. Fast forward 14 years and -Hazard is now hoping to share the pitch with Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo in the Champions League.

Hazard was stargazing when he tracked down Zidane, but the Chelsea player wants to go head-to-head with Messi or Ronaldo to measure just how close he is to the best players in the world.

The draw for the quarter-finals of the Champions League is made in Nyon tomorrow and most Chelsea fans will be hoping to avoid Barcelona or Real Madrid, but Hazard would relish the challenge.

"For me, for a young player, it's very important to test myself against Ronaldo or Messi," Hazard said. "Just to be on the pitch with them would be good and I would try to do well.

"It's an aspiration for me to be as good as Ronaldo and Messi. I watch a lot of games they play in and I try to be on the same level."

Hazard has been superb this season and produced another man-of-the-match performance in Chelsea's last-16 second-leg victory against Galatasaray. However, while Ronaldo took his Champions League tally for Real to 13 for the season, Hazard failed to cap his Chelsea performance with a goal.

The Belgian has scored only once in Europe this term, which leaves him a long way behind Ronaldo and Messi, who has scored eight Champions League goals for Barcelona.

"I want to score more because sometimes I play good, like against Galatasaray, but I don't score," -Hazard said. "To be the best player in the world, I have to score more.

"I think it's just in my head. I have to shoot more sometimes. I can make the pass, I can shoot and sometimes I make the pass, but I work on that."

Recalling his childhood sighting of Zidane in an interview with Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws, -Hazard said: "I've never been an autograph hunter as a child, but I do remember that I attended a training session of the France national team during Euro 2000, close to my home town.

"I was wearing a replica shirt of France, a cheap copy, but one of Zinedine Zidane, my idol. I don't know if I received an autograph from him.

"I hope I can inspire kids in -Belgium and the world like he did to me. When I was a little boy, I tried to improve my game and skills by watching him."

This is the first season Hazard has played in the knockout stages of the Champions League and the 23-year-old midfielder admits it is important for him and Chelsea to be appearing on the biggest stage in club football.

"A big club wants every year to win the Champions League. Last year was Europa League and this season we want these [big] trophies. This is the first time I have reached this level in the Champions League. I'm happy. The Champions League is maybe the biggest tournament in the world, so, yes, it is difficult, but it is good to be part of the late stages in my second season at Chelsea.

"We'll see where we end up in the next round. We want to get as far as possible. There are better teams than us in the last eight, but we'll try to make the best out of it."

There have never been any doubts about Hazard's ability at Stamford Bridge, but there were fears that he was not working hard enough to make the most of his talent.

Hazard, though, is determined that it will not be through a lack of effort if he does not reach the same level as Messi or Ronaldo. "Of course, I want to be the best in the world," Hazard said. "Previously I was more worried about the game itself - football was just a game for me, I wanted to amuse myself and didn't bother what the people thought about me. But since I'm here at Chelsea I've become more aware of my qualities.

"Before I knew I was a good player, but not one of the better players in the world. Now I realise that I can compete with Messi and Ronaldo in the near future, if I put in some more effort. I don't know if I will ever reach their level. It'll be hard, but I accept the challenge."

Jose Mourinho, the Chelsea manager, managed Ronaldo at Real and Hazard clearly feels that he is in good hands to achieve his goal. "When he has something to say, he does to your face, in a friendly way," Hazard said. "And he knows how to challenge his players.

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