Chelsea star Eden Hazard has opened up about the time he had to comfort Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar after Belgium knocked Brazil out of the World Cup last year.
In case you didn’t know…
Hazard’s national side registered an incredible 2-1 win over the Brazilians in the competition’s quarter-finals last summer.
An own goal from Fernandinho and a lovely long-range strike by Kevin de Bruyne helped the Belgians seal their place in the semi-finals.
When the final whistle was blown, Neymar appeared to be inconsolable at having crashed out of the competition yet again. This was when Hazard and Belgium assistant Thierry Henry were seen trying to console the forward in an act of pure class.
Belgium later went on to lose the semi-finals to eventual winners France.
The heart of the matter
Hazard has now opened up about the incident, empathizing with Neymar when it comes to the pressure that was solely on him throughout the competition.
Speaking in an interview with HLN, the Chelsea forward said, “That was something that came naturally. I didn’t think about it when we crossed each other. I just put myself in his place.”
“Everyone expected him to become the best player of the World Cup. It had to be Neymar. Lionel Messi was out of the tournament. Cristiano Ronaldo as well. The pressure on his shoulders must have been immense.”
“I know the feeling. But tens of thousands of times bigger than in Belgium, when they expected a lot from me in 2014. The nation, the fans, the journalists. It was Neymar, Neymar, Neymar. It was all about Neymar, Neymar, Neymar.”
It was exaggerated hysteria. Have we won? Then it’s thanks to Neymar. Have we lost? Then it’s Neymar’s fault. As if those 22 others in the Brazil squad didn’t even participate.”
He added, “We did not speak – his English isn’t that good. It was all about the gesture, not about the words. In a difficult moment, I wanted to make him feel respected. To comfort him. He is a top player. His moment will come. Maybe at the next World Cup.”
Chelsea are next scheduled to play Arsenal in a much-awaited London derby on Saturday.