Hazard junior mentor backing him for Chelsea success

Lille academy chief Jean-Michel Vandamme is delighted for Eden Hazard over his move to Chelsea. Vandamme was the first to set eyes on a the skinny wonderkid.

Lille academy chief Jean-Michel Vandamme is delighted for Eden Hazard over his move to Chelsea.

Vandamme was the first to set eyes on a the skinny wonderkid.

And Vandamme knows a thing or two about spotting talent — he is the man who discovered French superstar Franck Ribery.

Vandamme told The Sun: “I remember my scouts telling me that they have seen a great player in Brussels so I went to see.

“He was very skinny but his brain was very fast. He could analyse the game quicker than the others.

“But he needed to get bigger physically. It was tough. Anderlecht wanted him too. For a year and a half we spoke with the parents and, in the end, he came to us at 14. He really was extraordinary — both as a player and a person.

“When we signed the first contract he told me everything he wanted to achieve. He wanted to pack the crowds in and excite them. He said ‘when I will be 16, I’ll be in the first team’. I thought he was crazy. But he did it.”

Have your say