Eden Hazard bowed out of French football in style before moving to Chelsea in 2012.
Lille might not have retained the Ligue 1 title that they won so impressively the season before, but the 2011/12 campaign truly marked Hazard’s arrival as one of the world’s best young players.
Eventually finishing the campaign with a stunning 22 goals, Hazard was sought after by every top European club with any spare change, eventually securing an iconic Stamford Bridge switch.
Hazard waves goodbye to Lille
But Hazard was sure to give the Lilles fans something to remember him by with an astonishing performance in his final game for the club at home to Nancy on May 20, 2012.
However, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Hazard was going to drop an absolute disasterclass at the Stadium Lille Métropole if you’d have known what he was doing beforehand.
That’s because Hazard, safe in the knowledge that he would be leaving after the Nancy game, marked his upcoming departure by going for drinks with teammates the night before.
Hazard on the booze
And it’s at that point where we’re going to let former Lille skipper Rio Mavuba pick up the story because his account of the evening, per Goal, makes Hazard’s display all the more insane.
“We were certain to finish third and we were facing Nancy the following day. Mavuba explained to reporters. “It was Hazard’s last match with Lille and he wanted to organise a little something.
“We decided to go have a little drink. A little drink that dragged on somewhat. The following morning, Eden was still drunk.
“That evening against Nancy, not even with 30 minutes played, Eden had already bagged a hat-trick.
“The guy had not even slept, he drank for the entire night and he put away a hat-trick in 30 minutes. We all looked at each other [and] we told ourselves that this guy was the real deal.”
Lille 4-1 Nancy
You want to see the highlights of the game now, don’t you? Well, fear not, because the power of YouTube means that’s entirely possible, so be sure to check out Hazard’s electric treble below:
Imagine doing that with a rocking hangover and zero hours of sleep.
Lille’s cheeky celebration
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure half your local Sunday League team does that on a weekly basis, but it’s a different kettle of fish when you’re playing in one of Europe’s top five leagues.
And to think that Hazard had secured the match ball by the 35th minute is a testament to his world-class ability because we dread to think how much alcohol must have been sloshing around his belly.
In fact, you can even see the Lille players joking about the situation with a booze-related celebration a la Paul Gascoigne at Euro 1996 when Hazard bagged his first goal of the game – check it out:
However, if nothing else, let it remind us all that Hazard can still produce the sort of performances that make us fall in the love with the beautiful game even when he’s not firing on all cylinders.
And let that serve us optimism when Hazard’s injury woes at Real Madrid make us genuinely fear that we’ll never see him at 100% in the foreseeable future. Get well soon, Eden.