Kurt Zouma on his Chelsea career and his 'Happy' middle-name

Chelsea centre-back Zouma spoke about his time at the club ahead of manager Thomas Tuchel's first game in charge of the Blues against Wolves on Wednesday.

Kurt Zouma -- a two-time Premier League champion with Chelsea -- talks about his time at the club and the story behind his middle name “Happy”.

Stamford Bridge is the most happening place in the Premier League currently as Chelsea’s record goal-scorer, Frank Lampard, was sacked earlier this week. German coach Thomas Tuchel was confirmed as his successor on Wednesday.

Tuchel, who last enjoyed a glittering two-season spell at Paris Saint-Germain, arrives at Chelsea at a very crucial juncture. The Blues have lost five of their last eight games and are languishing in the ninth place, trailing table-topper Manchester United by 11 points.

Ahead of Tuchel’s first game in charge against Wolves on Wednesday, centre-back Kurt Zouma -- a two-time Premier League champion with Chelsea -- talks about his time at the club and the story behind his middle name “Happy”.

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Tell us about your title-winning debut season and what it was like playing alongside the likes of John Terry. 

I always dreamt of playing in the Premier League and it was a very successful debut year as we won the League and the Capital Cup too. He (Terry) was a great leader, he had everything to be one of the best defenders in the world. (It was great) to play with him, next to him, also with Gary Cahill. You learn a lot from people like them. You learn the defensive instinct - how to defend, how to always put the body on the line and how to tackle at the right time. 

After the high of winning the League, you spent a considerable time on the sidelines owing an ACL injury. How hard was that time and how did you get through it?

It was maybe a difficult moment, but it’s a part of life. These kinds of injuries happen to many footballers and you have to be strong mentally. I'm lucky because I've got a very good family around me and also my teammates, who supported me a lot. 

Was that an inspiring period for you, looking back now?

Sometimes my wife and I just talk about how I was out injured four years ago. I could have maybe stopped playing football and I'm back here playing. I'm feeling fit. I've been working hard to come back here and the work paid off.

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After being loaned out to Stoke City and Everton, you returned to Chelsea in the 201919/20 season and began to re-establish yourself. How was it to play under Frank Lampard? 

The new manager (Lampard) arrived at Chelsea and we knew he'd been a legend as a player and obviously, his message would come clearer. I say that because he's been a player and he knows the game. He knows the club very well and his message was very motivating. He brought a lot of young guys, and when you see Frank Lampard’s the manager, you want to play for him and you want to fight for him.

Individually, I’m improving in many aspects of the game. I was young before and needed to learn many, many things. But now I think I'm more established. I'm 26, so now I have a bit of experience now and I'm playing week in week out so I'm very happy with that. But you know the work's never finished. I got to keep going, keep working hard to make sure that I keep playing and I keep learning. You always learn every day.

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Your middle name is Happy - what’s the story behind that?

My parents were watching a movie called Kickboxer, which stars Jean-Claude Van Damme. Van Damme was called Kurt in the movie and my father told my mother that we should name our child Kurt. But my mother said that ‘Okay, he's got to be strong, but he will be happy and he will bring happiness, so we’ll call him Happy too.’

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