LONDON, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Eden Hazard used to be one of the worst trainers at Chelsea but he turned 23 on Tuesday and is now beginning to grow up as a footballer and as a man, according to manager Jose Mourinho.
The Belgium winger underlined his status as one of the Premier League's most dynamic talents by grabbing his 11th goa1 of the season in all competitions in a 2-0 win at Hull City on Saturday that took the Londoners to the top of the table.
"He's progressing in everything," Mourinho told the club website (www.chelseafc.com).
"He was known as one of the worst trainers and he's now become, not one of the best, but a good professional in training.
"He was known as having lots of quality, which he's kept, but not being very productive, and at the same time he didn't have that defensive culture, of knowing how to defend as a team.
"He now works very hard for the team, he uses his initiative in the game and he's not a player who does a fantastic action and then disappears from the game for 30 minutes. He's now trying all the time to be influential," said Mourinho.
"He has the responsibility of being a top player so knows he has to be there for his team in every match. It's been a fantastic evolution for him."
Hazard, who according to media reports cost a fee of 32 million pounds ($52.75 million) when he left French club Lille for Chelsea in June 2012, is also an integral part of the exciting young Belgium team that is tipped to do well at this year's World Cup.
If he maintains the sparkling form he is showing for Chelsea, he could be one of the standout attractions in Brazil.
"He was training to have some fun, he's a funny boy, a funny kid, always smiling, always laughing and having a joke," said Mourinho.
"He didn't have top concentration, it wasn't a training session looking for an evolution or a training session looking to improve, but at this moment it's completely different.
"He's trying to improve collectively and improve his individual qualities. Conversations, feedback, demanding more, showing him the way I think is the right way, and even if it isn't the right way, it's the way he has to follow," said Mourinho.
"I think he's happy, I think he feels good, I think he feels the evolution in his approach to the game."
Mourinho, in typically bullish fashion, said he hoped Hazard's skills would soon receive the wider acclaim the player deserves.
"He is playing very well for a long time," said the Portuguese. "The club made a big investment in him because they trust him a lot.
"He is more than just a talented kid now. He feels and accepts the responsibility, accepts that a team player is more than a talented player.
"Without losing his fantastic ability he is giving us other things. The kid is in a very good moment of his career with three consecutive man of the matches," said Mourinho.
"Let's see if the Barclays Premier League decide to give him a player of the month because the kid is waiting and the trophy is not arriving. Maybe they don't like to go to Cobham," he added, referring to Chelsea's training base.
($1 = 0.6066 British pounds) (Writing by Tony Jimenez; editing by Martyn Herman)
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- Jose Mourinho
- Eden Hazard
- Premier League