Frank Lampard’s Chelsea face an away trip to France as they come up against Lille in the second group stage game of the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday night.

Lampard’s first outing in Europe as manager did not go to plan, as his side ended the night with a surprise 1-0 defeat against Spanish side Valencia at Stamford Bridge.

The young Blues will have learned a harsh lesson that night, but the pressure is not lost as this is touted as a must win, with the likes of Ajax and the Spanish giants challenging for the knockout stage positions.

It’s a similar situation for Wednesday’s opponents, as their 3-0 away defeat at the hands of Ajax was a tough welcome back to the summit of European competition for the first time since the 2012/2013 season.

Ahead of The Blues’ first away trip in this season’s UEFA Champions League, we have taken a look at three players to have worn both the Chelsea and Lille shirts.

Eden Hazard (Lille 2007-2012, Chelsea 2012-2019)

Do you miss him yet?

Born in Belgium, Eden Hazard joined the youth ranks of Lille in 2005 and made his professional debut in 2007 as a substitute.

It wasn’t until Claude Puel’s departure as manager at the start of the 2008/09 season where Hazard really started to make a name for himself, under manager Rudi Garcia.

The Belgian shone in France until 2012, where after two Young Player of the Year and two Player of the Year awards, he joined then European champions Chelsea after a long period of speculation.

He immediately shone as he won a penalty and assisted a Branislav Ivanovic goal on his English Premier League debut in a 2-0 victory over Wigan Athletic.

The fresh-faced winger took The Blues and the country by storm in his first season, becoming a breath of fresh air which seemed to have disappeared since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United.

He won the UEFA Europa League in his first season at The Bridge, and despite not featuring in the final, was pivotal in the club’s success.

After a trophyless second season, Hazard won his first English Premier League and League Cup title in the 2014/2015 campaign, once again being influential to the side as well as winning the PFA Player of the Year and Chelsea’s Player of the Year.

The following campaign was a period of frustration for Hazard and Chelsea alike. Jose Mourinho was relieved of his duties after a run of poor performances which saw The Blues in the relegation zone, and Hazard’s fall from grace was sudden and shocking.

Speculation of a move away from London loomed, which drew anger amongst the Chelsea supporters following his dip in form throughout the season. 

Hazard finally scored his first two league goals of the season against AFC Bournemouth in April but it was the game against Tottenham Hotspur which will be remembered for a very long time.

After coming on as a substitute, he scored the equaliser which meant the end of Tottenham Hotspur’s title hopes, and all seemed to be forgiven.

Following a year of uncertainty, Hazard was back to his brilliant best under Antonio Conte as he helped The Blues win another English Premier League title and his first FA Cup.

Hazard’s final season in a blue shirt was arguably his best. He not only had more goals and assists combined than anyone in the league, the Belgian star was also influential in winning another UEFA Europa League title. 

The 4-1 victory over London rivals Arsenal sadly turned out to be his final game for the club, but he was once again inspirational as he scored two goals to make it the perfect farewell for the Chelsea legend.

Joe Cole (Chelsea 2003-2010, Lille 2011-2012 on loan from Liverpool)

A product of the West Ham United youth academy along with a host of well-known players including Lampard, Joe Cole signed for The Blues in 2003 and made his debut a week later.

Despite a quiet first season, Cole worked his way into the first team due to a number of injuries to Arjen Robben and Damien Duff.

Cole’s 10 league goals helped his side win their first league title in 50 years in what was a momentous occasion for the club.

The midfield maestro was once again a first team regular the following season and he was influential in winning the league title for the second consecutive season. His final goal of the season came against the title decider against Manchester United, where he scored a brilliant solo effort after making his way past the United defence.

What followed was a season hampered by injury, but Cole did manage to start in Chelsea’s FA Cup final victory against United at the new Wembley Stadium. 

Cole won Chelsea’s Player of the Year in 2008/2009 but was left heartbroken after The Blues were defeated in the UEFA Champions League final at the hands of United in Moscow. 

In Cole’s final season in South West London, the attacking midfielder made 26 league appearances under manager Carlo Ancelotti as they won the league title for the third time and the FA Cup once again in the Roman revolution.

After joining Liverpool, Cole was sent on loan to Lille, where he arguably became one of their most influential players during his time in France.

A string of impressive performances convinced Brendan Rodgers that he should re-join the Merseyside outfit for the following season, despite Lille’s best efforts to keep him.

Salomon Kalou (Chelsea 2006-2012, Lille 2012-2014)

Salomon Kalou joined Chelsea in 2006 and won numerous honours at The Bridge.

Known for his versatility and work ethic, Kalou would prove to be an asset throughout his time in a blue shirt.

Despite being in and out of the side, the Ivorian international helped The Blues to an English Premier League title, four FA Cups, one League Cup and the coveted UEFA Champions League, a game in which he started.

After making 156 appearances and scoring 36 goals domestically, Kalou moved to Lille in 2012.

In two seasons, he managed to score 30 goals in 67 domestic appearances which is an impressive achievement for someone who is not an out-and-out striker.

By Darion Westwood

About Author

I am Dan Pentland football writer and reporter at various levels including the English Football League, FA Women's Super League and in UEFA and FIFA affiliated competitions. In May 2015, I completed my childhood dream of visiting all 92 Football League grounds. Follow me on Twitter @DanPentlandpcuk

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