Chelsea star Eden Hazard has revealed how training judo as a youngster has helped him gain a unique advantage over pesky defenders throughout his career to date.
Hazard believes practising the Japanese martial art helped him land without hurting himself, because the main principle involves throwing or taking an opponent to the ground with a mix of style and strength.
When you consider that the Belgian winger is fouled on average once every 30 minutes in the Premier League, easily more than Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi in La Liga, then perhaps the diminutive wing wizard had a point.
Chelsea star in the form of his life
In a wide-ranging interview with The Independent the former Lille linchpin touched on mixing judo with football while growing up, sharing: “I learnt how to fall safely. I was only doing it at a low-level. I wasn’t a black belt!”
You can only imagine the kicking Hazard must have taken as a youth-team player, paying a heavy price for his technical ability on a rise towards the top of European football. A low centre of gravity coupled with that judo base must have helped toughen him though, because he's very rarely out injured.
Hazard can still take game to another level
This season has finally seen Hazard match talent to incredible consistency in a Chelsea shirt, but it will be for nothing if the Blues don't go on and claim silverware.
The Blues will be looking to the man who recently signed a new five-and-a-half year contract to do the business in tomorrow's Capital One Cup final against Tottenham Hotspur, something he's eminently capable of.
Hazard has scored 13 goals this season but could arguably still take his game on to another level, one that will see him compared to the incredible machine-like output Messi and Ronaldo produce.
Delivering when it really matters most will go some way towards matching that hype, so expect a Wembley performance worth shouting about from a 24-year-old just about approaching the very peak of his powers.
Chelsea fans, where does Hazard rank in terms of the world's very best footballers? Will he deliver the goods at Wembley tomorrow? Let us know by having your say in the comment box below!
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