Eden Hazard has revealed how former Barcelona striker Patrick Kluivert helped set him on his way to football superstardom with Chelsea.
The Chelsea ace played with Kluivert at former club Lille during the 2007-08 season in the twilight of the Champions League winner’s career.
Kluivert was Ajax’s golden boy in the 1990s, scoring the goal to clinch that European triumph for the club in 1995 against Milan, and went on to have a glittering career.
Hazard joined Lille as 14-year-old and crossed paths with Kluivert at a crucial stage of his development as the Belgian began his breakthrough onto the senior stage.
During that time, the Dutch veteran gave the youngster a piece of advice that has lived with him on his journey to Stamford Bridge.
Hazard said: “I remember the first time I met Patrick Kluivert and shook his hand. I played with him at Lille. He said, 'Yeah, you’re young, you have good quality, but work.
“You have to work. Every day you have to work if you want to be one of the best.' I remember that very well.”
The 24-year-old is the most fouled player in the Premier League this season and Blues boss Jose Mourinho has called for more protection from referees for his prized asset.
Despite that statistic and the complaints of his manager, Hazard insists he goes into games without fear and is keen to add another medal to his collection on Sunday.
He added: “This trophy can be very important. We played a very good campaign last season. Personally, it was good but we won nothing. This season I hope we can change that.
“Since I started football, defenders have always tried to kick me. I can cope with that, as long as the tackles don’t kill me. This is football.”