Thorgan Hazard has been in the Bundesliga with Borussia Mönchengladbach for over three years now, and his increasingly impressive performances domestically have been drawing interest from back home. His goal against Cyprus in his first international start, has done that no harm.
Meet the Hazard coming out of the shadows of brother Eden, as bundesliga.com take you through 10 things you might not know about the Gladbach favourite.
1) Thorgan by name...
It’s not easy to make a first name for yourself when your elder brother is a global superstar, but at least Thorgan can lay claim to having an unusual one. It was inspired by a character, Thorgal Aegirsson, in a Belgian fantasy comic book that first appeared in serial form in Tintin magazine in the late 70s. The fictional character, who was born on another planet, was raised by Vikings after his spaceship crashed on Earth. Perhaps that explains the exceptional success of the Hazard brood….
If it does, it means that Carine and Thierry Hazard, the parents of Thorgan, Eden et al, also have an extraterrestrial pedigree. They have a football background too. While dad was a semi-professional player, slogging about the midfield of La Louviere, the town where Thorgan and Eden were born, mum was a top-flight forward for six years. “As a girl, I went with my dad to games,” she said. “I played myself later and Eden scored goals before his birth thanks to me.” The pair then became Physical Education teachers before “enjoying going to see our children after a week’s work.”
3) Soccer mom
Carine was a real driving force behind her boys following their parents into the game. Though she met her husband at a football match — “he came to see the girls,” she revealed — she was, in Thierry’s own words, “the most committed one” when it came to their sons becoming players even if “we never pushed the children to play football.” The pair would rack up the kilometres driving to see their eldest sons play in their early days. From their home in Braine-le-Comte, where they made their base on the aptly-named Rue du Stade (Stadium Street) just 50 kilometres from the French border, they would head south to see Thorgan at Lens’ youth team before going on to watch Eden with the pros at Lille.
Watch: We met Thorgan Hazard back in 2014 and took a look at his roots!
4) Divided loyalties
Lille had wanted Thorgan to join Eden at the French side, but that fraternal reunion would have to wait until they both arrived at Chelsea. Instead, Thorgan joined Lens after being spotted by them at a youth tournament. “My parents preferred that I not be in the same club as Eden to avoid comparisons,” he explained. With the Sang et Or — the Blood and Gold — he played alongside Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane and Valencia midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia in winning France’s Under-16 championship in 2008/09.
5) In the Garden with Eden
“When we were little, I went in goal and Eden would shoot at me like a madman,” revealed Thorgan, who is almost inevitably compared to his brother at every step, despite their parents’ caution. Those parallels became all the more defined when their careers dovetailed in 2012 as the younger Hazard followed his elder sibling — two years, two months his senior — to Stamford Bridge. “Of course, it helped that Chelsea also signed Eden, but it is not like they just sign every player’s brother. [Frank] Lampard and [John] Terry’s brothers never played for Chelsea,” said Thorgan, who had featured in just 14 Ligue 2 games for Lens. “They signed me because I showed potential. They had to pay Lens a transfer fee to get me. And they were right. I might not be following the same path as Eden, but I am improving step by step.”
6) Ex-zulte in Waregem
While Eden’s career trajectory was sure to be at Stamford Bridge, Thorgan was immediately sent out on loan, returning to his native country to join Zulte Waregem. Though on a smaller stage than his brother, Thorgan was no less impressive. After the 2012/13 season ended with qualification for the Champions League qualifying rounds, the following campaign saw him finish as the club’s second-top scorer with 14 goals while also being named his club’s and his country’s Player of the Year. All that, despite the season having started with him, aged 20, being handed the captain’s armband, replacing the veteran, Davy De Fauw. The “commotion” — as the club so cutely termed it — caused by the unpopular move saw Thorgan hand the honour back to his team-mate within 24 hours…
7) From on-loan to full-blown Foal
Success in Belgium earned Hazard a trip back to England…and an immediate return to the continent where Mönchengladbach were only too happy to give him his first taste of one of Europe’s big five leagues. Initially on loan for the 2014/15 season, the glimpse of the talent he showed in arcing home a free-kick in the Europa League play-off with Sarajevo really came good in the Matchday 14 3-2 win over Hertha Berlin that included a maiden Bundesliga goal as well as an assist from the Belgian prodigy. His “exemplary development” as Gladbach’s sporting director Max Eberl described it convinced the Foals to make the move permanent as early as February 2015 for a reported €8 million.
8) National team
Thorgan became the second Hazard to represent their country when Marc Wilmots handed him his senior Belgium debut in a 4-2 win in a friendly against the USA on 29 May 2013. He did not get to play alongside Eden at the Brazil World Cup the following year as he was named among seven reserves for the main squad, and also missed out on EURO 2016. He made his first start for the Belgian Red Devils this week, against Cyprus, and scored alongside a brace from Eden in a 4-0 win, which is sure to be a night the Hazard family will remember forever.
9) Brotherly love
“We’re brothers, but we’re rivals in the national team,” explained Thorgan early in the 2017/18 season referring to his big brother, but added “we have never had big arguments.” The relationship between the pair is as close as it was when they were children when Eden practiced his shooting at the expense of his brother. Seen together in a video in which they surprise customers at a fast-food restaurant by serving them at the drive-thru, the pair make fun of the eternal question: which one of you is better? For Eden, he is only too happy to super-size his younger brother’s achievements.
“I don’t think it’s easy every day to be compared to your big brother because your big brother has already done some good things in football,” the Chelsea forward said after Thorgan was named Belgium’s Player of the Year in 2014. “He deserves more praise than me because I think it’s harder for him, because everything has come to me quickly, I played some good matches early in my career. He has always had to contend with, ‘He’s the brother of Eden…’ Now he has made a first name for himself in Belgium.”
10) A dinner-sty
Defenders can now take a collective groan, because Thorgan and Eden are not the only Hazards they may have to duke it out with in the future. The pair are two of four brothers, all of whom are making waves in the football world. Touted as ‘even better than Eden’ while coming through the Lille youth academy, Kylian, 22, has just joined Chelsea’s Elite Development Squad after a spell at Zulte Waregem and Ujpest in Hungary. Ethan, by seven years the youngest of the four, is “also starting to count his goals and assists,” Thorgan revealed. Why? Because the Hazard that tallies the fewest during his club season has to take the whole family out to dinner. “He’ll have to save up if he’s going to do that,” said Thorgan with a smile. “Or perhaps his big brothers can help him out.”