Eden Hazard says his goal to end Tottenham’s Premier League title hopes was his best memory of last season.
The 25-year-old scored a superb late equaliser as Chelsea battled to a 2-2 draw at home to Spurs in May, a result which crowned Leicester City champions at the expense of Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
That outcome was emphatically celebrated by Chelsea’s players and supporters at Stamford Bridge despite a poor season that saw them finish 10th in the table after Guus Hiddink had replaced the sacked Jose Mourinho.
Hazard also had a miserable campaign, with the strike against Spurs one of only four he netted in the top-flight, but he loved the opportunity to hurt Chelsea’s rivals.
“That was the best memory of last year because of the rivalry with Tottenham,” Hazard said to the Guardian.
“I was on the bench, we were losing 2-0 at the break and had been up against it, and at half-time we were in that dressing-room saying, ‘Lads, it’s 26 years since we last lost to Tottenham here. This isn’t the day that record is going to end’.
“It kick-started us. Gary Cahill scored from a corner, and then my goal.
“Even a 2-2 draw felt like a victory because it had been such a difficult season, and we knew we had wounded our local rivals in Tottenham. Leicester were the ones who really enjoyed that night, of course.”
Hazard – who scored the goal which won Chelsea the 2015 title under Mourinho – added: “So yes, I’ve scored the goals that have decided the title in the last two years, but hopefully this season I’ll be scoring one to bring the trophy back to Chelsea.”
The Belgium international also praised new boss Antonio Conte, although he acknowledged the Italian’s successful but demanding style can at times be difficult to cope with.
“He kicks every ball, heads every ball,” added Hazard. “If he could, he’d be out there with us, our 12th man on the pitch. You can see he was a player.
“It’s only now and again, when he’s screaming at you to do this or that, demanding you concentrate or work even harder, you find yourself thinking, ‘Hold on a second, we’re 4-0 up with five minutes to play. Easy now, boss. Calm down’.
“But that’s the way he is. That’s his personality. That’s how he works. He expects a lot of us, he’s demanding, and he never stops wanting more from his players. But when you’re in his side winning matches every week, it’s obvious his methods work.
“Up to now, under him, we are being rewarded for the work we are putting in.”