Roberto Martinez admits Eden Hazard was ‘not enjoying his life’ amid injury-plagued time but Belgium boss but says forward was ‘happy’ after 90 minutes against Finland and claims ‘when Eden is happy, we are a much better team’
Belgium manager Roberto Martinez has admitted Eden Hazard was ‘not enjoying his life’ during his injury-plagued time at Real Madrid.
The Belgium captain has had a miserable spell in Spain after joining Los Blancos from Chelsea for a potential fee of £130million in 2019, with injuries restricting him to just seven starts last season.
It has been the first time in his career where the mercurial forward has struggled with repeated injuries, and Martinez has admitted the player had been affected by the issues.
Roberto Martinez says Eden Hazard ‘was not enjoying his life’ amid repeated injury concerns
The Belgium manager admitted he was worried for Hazard with his body reacting differently
When asked about his skipper, Martinez told ESPN: ‘It’s been a process with Eden. I must admit that I was worried about him because he wasn’t enjoying his life. His body was not reacting the way it had reacted over the past 15 years, and that’s difficult.
‘When you’re an injury prone player, you are used to having to cope with a body that could break down at any time. But that’s not Eden.
‘He never had injury concerns when he was playing in France. He missed only 20 games in eight seasons in the Premier League, one of the most demanding physically League in the world.
The 30-year-old has had a torrid time with injuries since sealing a £130m move to Real Madrid
But Hazard completed a full 90 minutes for Belgium in victory against Finland in last game
Martinez said it was nice to see Hazard play because ‘when Eden is happy, we are better team’
‘When I saw Eden last March, he was very sad and down. And from that point, I think he started to work with a real incentive of becoming happy again and probably with the timings, we’ve been lucky.’
The spell has seen Hazard lose his place in the starting team under Martinez but he completed his first start for seven weeks in their 2-0 victory over Finland in Belgium’s final group game, and the former Everton boss admitted it was nice to see Hazard happy again.
When asked if Hazard was happy again now, Martinez said: ‘Against Finland was the first time I’ve seen Eden happy and enjoying his football for a long while. And when Eden is happy, we are a much better team.
Martinez will have Hazard and fellow returning man Kevin de Bruyne (left) to choose from
‘November, 2019 was the last time he played 90 minutes for the national team, so you can imagine we had to wait a long time.’
Next up in Belgium’s bid to secure Euro 2020 glory is a mouthwatering last 16 tie against Portugal on Sunday, with Kevin de Bruyne and Axel Witsel’s action against Finland also likely to hand a boost to Martinez.