Belgian forward Eden Hazard is retiring from soccer. Hazard, who starred for Premier League’s Chelsea and La Liga’s Real Madrid, announced his decision on Tuesday.
Hazard will walk away at the age of 32. He made the decision after failing to find a new club this past summer.
“You must listen to yourself and say stop at the right time,” Hazard wrote on Instagram. “After 16 years and more than 700 matches played, I have decided to end my career as a professional footballer. I was able to realize my dream, I have played and had fun on many pitches around the world.”
Hazard agreed to a mutual contract termination with Real Madrid back in early June. Since then, there have been rumors about him continuing his career in Saudi Arabia and Australia, but neither of the proposed moves materialized.
Eden Hazard rose to prominence with Ligue 1 side Lille, where he displayed impressive technique and control of the ball while shouldering the task of being the team’s main creative force on the pitch. After five years of playing professionally in Lille, a stint that included a Ligue 1 title in 2010-11, Hazard secured a move to Chelsea.
Hazard immediately made an impact in London and emerged as the team’s best player during two Premier League title-winning runs. He ended up scoring 110 goals and dishing 92 assists in 352 games with Chelsea before leaving to join Real.
Real expected Hazard to make the same impact at Santiago Bernabeu as he made during his previous stops, but that didn’t happen. Hazard never lived up to his €100 million transfer fee, struggling with injuries and lack of form. In four years in Spain, the Belgian made only 76 appearances in all competitions and scored seven goals.