Kurt Zouma celebrates his 25th birthday today (27 October) and to mark the occasion, we look back at the eventful career of the France defender since he became a Chelsea player five years ago.
A dream start
Signed from Saint-Etienne in January 2014, Zouma made his Chelsea debut in a League Cup tie against Bolton Wanderers in September and the teenager made an immediate impression on the fans at Stamford Bridge by opening the scoring after 25 minutes in a 2-1 victory.
Taking centre stage
With Nemanja Matic suspended for the 2015 League Cup final, the youngster was used by Jose Mourinho in an unfamiliar role in central midfield against Tottenham Hotspur. He rose to the occasion, keeping Spurs in check as the Blues won 2-0 to secure Zouma’s first winners’ medal with the club.
Young Player of the Year
Zouma’s impact in his debut season with the Blues saw him named as the club’s Young Player of the Year for 2014/15 as he made 26 appearances in all competitions as we won the Premier League and League Cup.
Gunning down the Gunners
Zouma could hardly have picked a better occasion to score his Premier League goal for Chelsea, heading in our opening goal in a 2-0 derby win over Arsenal in September 2015.
An unfortunate setback
He was becoming a regular fixture in defence for the Blues when he suffered a major blow in a match against Manchester United in February 2016, sustaining an anterior cruciate ligament injury which ruled him out for the rest of the season and cost him the opportunity to play for France at Euro 2016.
The long road to recovery
Zouma was back in training by the summer of 2016 but didn’t return to action for the Blues until January 2017 in a 4-1 win over Peterborough United in the FA Cup. He was gradually eased back into action by the Blues, making 13 appearances in total as we won the Premier League again.
Zouma signed a new six-year contract with the Blues in July 2017 and was sent on loan to Stoke City where he had an impressive campaign despite the Potters’ relegation, making 37 appearances. He followed it up last season with 36 games on loan at Everton, where he became a big fan favourite.
Back at the Bridge
Despite interest from the Toffees to make his loan move permanent, Zouma returned to Stamford Bridge for the 2019/20 season. After a good pre-season, he established a spot for himself in Frank Lampard’s youthful squad which has gradually come together as a side to be reckoned with the agile and athletic Frenchman back to his best at the heart of our defence.
Happy Birthday Kurt!