Towering man-child Kurt Zouma has quickly become a key member of the Chelsea squad this season, which is a bit surprising given that the Blues' defense was the best in the league last season and Zouma himself still looked very much like a raw prospect when he arrived from Saint-Etienne. And yet, as impressive as it is to have become one of the first names of the team sheet at just 21 years of age, it's even more exciting that he's not even the finished product yet.
"When I signed here, I knew that I would be learning a lot. As a defender, you can take a lot from just looking. Whenever I was on the bench, I watched them [Terry and Cahill] play. They are competitive, but they are always there to help you and to speak with you."
"When I started to play, they told me how different the English league is. They said that I had to be ready for the impact. In England, strikers are very strong and very clever. You have to be ready for that... The English league is the most difficult physically, and even mentally. After a game, sometimes you need a whole week to recover. There are no easy games to win."
In his own words, he's gone from "tactically, very bad" to being aware, though disbelieving of the comparisons to Marcel Desailly. Those are probably a bit premature, in fairness. But he'll get there. There's no reason to think Zouma won't be anchoring the Chelsea backline for many years to come.
Beyond just the football, Zouma also talks about the two most important things to him in life: faith and family. He draws strength from both, on the pitch and off of it, and especially in trying times.
"Norwich was an emotional day for me. What happened [in Paris] was very sad; we had to think of the victims."
"I am Muslim. Before every game, I pray. I ask God to protect me from injury, to help me have a good game, to protect everybody in the stadium and everybody in the world. Like everybody, I want peace. I want people to enjoy the game if they are playing or watching. That's what I was thinking."
Be sure to check out the rest of the interview with Sport Magazine. As we've seen, heard, and read a few times before, Zouma once again comes across as an incredibly mature and likable character. Happy times!