Eden Hazard announced his retirement from professional football on Tuesday at the age of 32, bringing an end to his 16-year career.
“You must listen to yourself and say stop at the right time,” Hazard wrote in an Instagram post.
“After 16 years and more than 700 matches played, I have decided to end my career as a professional footballer. I was able to realise my dream, I have played and had fun on many pitches around the world.
“During my career I was lucky to meet great managers, coaches and teammates — thank you to everyone for these great times. I will miss you all.”
Hazard thanked his three clubs — Lille, Chelsea and Real Madrid — as well as the Belgian FA and national team in his statement.
“A special thank you to my family, my friends, my advisors and the people who have been close to me in good times and bad,” the post continued.
“Finally, a huge thank you to you, my fans, who have followed me for all these years and for your encouragement everywhere I have played. Now is the time to enjoy my loved ones and have new experiences.
“See you off the field soon my friends.”
Hazard won five league titles in his career — two each with Chelsea and Los Blancos, and one with Lille — as well as a number of individual prizes, including the PFA Player of the year in 2014-15.
Chelsea paid tribute to Hazard in a series of posts on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter, saying he was “a player who could do pretty much anything with a ball at his feet.”
“Happy retirement, to one of Chelsea’s greatest ever players,” it concludes.
Lille similarly posted an emotional tribute, saying “[Hazard’s] prowess will live forever in our memories” and that Hazard is the “greatest talent trained at LOSC.”