There was little Chelsea did that our Thai fans did not enjoy in Bangkok on Wednesday evening, but there was one man whose presence seemed to thrill our local support even more than most – Eden Hazard.
The diminutive Belgian was one of the signings of the season last year, quickly winning over Chelsea fans at home and away, but there was something different about the attention he received during our pre-season victory over the Singha All-Stars, and that was that much of the love coming his way was from the females in the crowd. It seemed every time Hazard touched the ball, there was a lot of excited screaming coming from the crowd.
‘I tried to impress the fans with some skills because I know Chelsea is popular here and we are loved a lot, they have been very nice to me while I am here. I didn’t hear the girls, but it’s good to know now!’ the 22-year-old said afterwards.
‘It was a difficult match for us with it being too hot, and the pitch was not perfect but we tried hard and we scored a goal, so it’s good for the first game.’
Our Belgians were heavily involved, with Romelu Lukaku scoring the only goal of the game from the penalty spot, while Kevin De Bruyne, who spent the last campaign on loan in Germany with Werder Bremen, played 80 minutes. Most figured for just 45.
‘Kevin did well, I know his quality and he gave some very good passes in the game,’ Hazard said. ‘Everybody knows he is a good player and it was good for him to show it. He played for 80 minutes in this weather but he did very well and it is good for him.’
The game brings to an end our time in Thailand, and we fly on Thursday to Malaysia. Hazard has enjoyed the tour so far.
‘Training has been very intensive, we prepared for the first game well and now we have to do better in the second game,’ he said. ‘We can do some things better but the most important thing is that most players played for some minutes.
‘The people in Thailand were very friendly. I hope we are as popular in Malaysia, because the support is amazing to see.’
As a side note, while many players on the trip have amused themselves at one time or another with basketball or table tennis, and Frank Lampard was following the cricket back in England, Hazard has been monitoring events in the Tour de France cycling.
‘Every day I follow it,’ he smiled. ‘I like to cycle, not too much, but we have some good cyclists in Belgium, even though it is flat! We are not good for the Tour de France but I have always watched it on TV. This season is for Chris Froome, the British guys are doing very well!’