Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho hailed his Belgian star Eden Hazard as "one of the top three players in the world" after he scored his side's winning goal in their 1-0 win against Manchester United on Saturday.
Hazard has been the shining star for Mourinho's Blues this season, with his performances crucial in what looks certain to be the Stamford Bridge club's first title-winning season in five years.
The 24-year-old, who is the favourite to be crowned as the PFA Player of the Year next Sunday, again proved himself to be a match winner when it really mattered against United, with his latest vital goal taking his tally for the season to 18 in all competitions.
Mourinho suggested the growing maturity of the player Chelsea signed from Lille in the summer of 2012 is helping him to emerge as one of the game's greats, as he presumably placed his No. 10 alongside Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo as he offered this tribute. "He knows that he is one of the three best players in the world, the responsibility that comes with that and he is coping with that responsibility," Mourinho told reporters.
"I had lots of stars, but he is the humble star. He is a kid, but also a family man and I want Eden Hazard to be a champion. If people are fair, then he gets the [Player of the Year] award, but the first thing I want him to win is the Premier League. He deserves this."
"Physically, mentally he's getting very, very strong. He understands his role. He understands his talent is fundamental for the team."
Mourinho revealed he had urged Hazard to make a difference in a game against United that he was always convinced his Chelsea side would not lose, despite the Blues' indifferent form in recent weeks.
"The day before the game I told him: 'This game we will never lose. Never.' But we needed to win," Mourinho said.
"He understands that clearly, especially at a time where the team doesn't have all its power, he understands when the game becomes strategic."
Mourinho went on to insist he did not care when his side wrapped up the Premier League title as they head into another high-profile clash against Arsenal next weekend. Chelsea are 10 points ahead of the second-place Gunners with just six games left to play.
"If it's in the last game that we are champions, it's in the last game," he added. "We don't go to Arsenal or to Leicester with the obsession of 'it has to be today.' We need to win this title, this title is very close, so we need to close this."