Wed, Jun 06, 2012 - Page 19 News List

Champions League triumph persuaded Hazard to join Blues

AFP, LONDON

Eden Hazard has admitted he decided to join Chelsea after watching his new club’s dramatic Champions League final triumph against Bayern Munich.

Hazard completed his £32 million (US$49 million) transfer from French club LOSC Lille Metropole on Monday after the 21-year-old had initially suggested he was likely to join either Manchester City or Manchester United.

The Belgium playmaker was uncertain which offer to accept and revealed he only made up his mind to move to Stamford Bridge after being impressed by the spirited nature of the Blues’ penalty shootout win over Bayern.

“I watched the Champions League final like everybody else,” Hazard told Chelsea’s Web site. “It puts a bit more pressure on the players who are already here, but they’re used to it and I think I’m pretty good at coping under pressure. It’s true that initially there were a number of clubs in for me, but when Chelsea won the Champions League, I thought: ‘Why not?’ It was a complicated decision with lots of different factors involved, but the fact that they have great players and are European champions, also coming to London — I know people here already and there are a few French speakers — I think I have made the right decision.”

Winning the Champions League clearly helped Chelsea’s chances of landing Hazard as it guaranteed they would play in the competition next season.

Hazard believes Chelsea can use their first European Cup as a springboard to achieve even greater success in the coming years and he is keen to lead a strong challenge in the Premier League after this season’s disappointing sixth-place finish.

“Chelsea had a great season, even if we didn’t do very well in the league,” he said. “By anybody’s standards winning two cups is a great achievement, so it will be a big challenge to do better. We’re equipped to do that and all I can hope is that while I’m here we can win a lot of trophies, that’s what I’m aiming for.”

Hazard also revealed that he spoke to former Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole, who spent last season on loan at Lille.

“I spoke to Joe Cole and what he said above all was that Chelsea was the right club for me,” he said. “As somebody who loves the club himself, he said he could really see me in the shirt, so when I see him next I’ll tell him he was right. It’s a dream come true for me. I can’t wait to get started and for the season to start so I can meet my new teammates, the supporters and all the people who are involved.”

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