Football has seen plenty of brothers make it in the game, either at the same club or at different ones, but rarely has one family been as involved as the Hazards. While Real Madrid’s Eden might have had the most prestigious careers of all, his brothers, Thorgan of Borussia Dortmund, Kylian of Cercle Brugge, and Ethan of Royal Stade Brainois, are doing quite well themselves. Additionally, their parents, Thierry and Carine, both had careers in the game.
Their father played at a semi-professional level as a defensive midfielder in Belgium before working towards getting a license to become his children’s agent. Their mother was a forward and scored goals at free will in Belgium before hanging up her boots after she became pregnant with Eden.
In this family of football, it is the two oldest children that have shone brightest. The younger two, Kylian and Ethan, are still quite young, but they can take inspiration from Eden and Thorgan, who have had stellar careers at some of the biggest clubs in Europe.
Being the oldest, Eden Hazard’s career started first as he left his native Belgium to move to France, where Lille were keen on his talents. After initial difficulty adjusting to life and concerns about his apparent lack of enthusiasm, a teenage Eden kicked on and became one of the club’s best players. He made his senior debut in 2007, as manager Claude Puel gave the 18-year-old a chance. From there he never looked back, becoming a star for the club as Lille became the best in France at the turn of the decade.
In a team of emerging names like Gervinho, Mathieu Debuchy and Yohan Cabaye, Eden was the poster-boy, and in 2011 he led the team to a league and cup double, along with claiming the Ligue 1 Player of the Year award for his impressive displays. While all that was happening, Thorgan, two years younger than Eden, was developing. Both brothers were helped immensely by their parents, coaching them from the time they were children and providing moral support.
Their father Thierry believed that Eden was gifted, but Thorgan wasn’t too far behind: “Technically, Eden is the best but in terms of effort, Thorgan is ahead,” he told Der Spiegel in 2015. Eden’s move to Chelsea in 2012 saw Thorgan join the Blues as well, signing from Zulte Waregem as an 18-year-old. He would, however, spend two years on loan at Zulte, even winning the Belgian Player of the Year award in 2014, before moving to London.
However, his spell there wasn’t as fruitful as his older brother’s. Eden continued his impressive form, creating an impressive attacking line alongside Juan Mata and Oscar, but they weren’t able to win any trophies.
When José Mourinho returned to Stamford Bridge in 2013, Eden’s place in the first team was immovable. Thorgan, however, was struggling to fit in Mourinho’s plans. The teenager attempted to force a move to Anderlecht in the aim of getting more playing time, but nothing materialised.
Instead, he would find a home in Germany. After seeing compatriot Kevin de Bruyne succeed with Wolfsburg following his departure from Chelsea, Thorgan found a place at Borussia Mönchengladbach, where he became an integral part of Lucien Favre’s team.
He didn’t have regrets about his decision, believing it was a good chance for him to grow: “I’m a different type of player than my brother,” said Thorgan. “Eden is one of the best players in the world. When I came to Chelsea, it was clear that, like many other players, I would first be loaned out. So I went to Belgium for two years and did a good job there. When I played for Chelsea, I was still too young and not ready for the big jump. Chelsea is a big club with outstanding players. For me, the decision to play for a different team was better.”
Both Hazards were now enjoying themselves. In 2014/15, while Thorgan was excelling in Germany, Eden won his first league title in England while also claiming the PFA Player of the Year award. Thorgan’s move to Gladbach would then be made permanent, beginning a period where he earned more call-ups to the national team to join his mainstay brother. Having missed out on the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016, his performances in Germany were increasing his chances of being on the plane to Russia for 2018.
After a few struggles, Eden returned to his best form in 2016/17 under Antonio Conte, adding another league title to his increasing tally; a year after that, both brothers were on their way to Russia for the World Cup. Once again Eden shone, being one of the best players of the tournament as Belgium finished third, their best result at the World Cup finals. Thorgan was used sporadically, making two appearances, but also returned home with a bronze medal.
In Eden’s final game for Chelsea in 2019, he scored as he spurred his team on to a Europa League final win over Arsenal. That summer, both he and his brother secured big moves that were an indication of their progress over the years.
After 110 goals, two league titles, two domestic cups and one European trophy, Eden would secure a €100m move to Real Madrid, the club he supported as a child. Thorgan, meanwhile, would rejoin Lucien Favre at Borussia Dortmund, ensuring he continues to play the Champions League football deserving of his talents.
Their first seasons at their new clubs were different; Eden struggled with injuries while Thorgan was at his best. Despite that, they are optimistic of good futures at their respective teams. The two brothers are supremely talented and given that football is in their blood, it comes as no surprise. While one may have earned the bigger moves and won more trophies, there’s no denying that they’ve both got careers to be proud of.
By Karan Tejwani @karan_tejwani26