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Zouma: "At Chelsea, Mourinho taught me to hate defeat"

Now firmly establsihed in Chelsea's starting line-up, Kurt Zouma credits José Mourinho with helping him forge a winner's mentality.

Zouma: "At Chelsea, Mourinho taught me to hate defeat"
Michael Regan Getty Images

Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma has thanked former manager José Mourinho for giving him the tools to succeed in English football. Mourinho signed the then-teenage centre-back from Saint-Étienne during his second stint in charge at Stamford Bridge.

Zouma grateful for Mourinho's lessons

The pair spent 18 months together before Mourinho moved on in December 2015 and his departure led to a downturn in playing time for Zouma, who was sent to Stoke City and Everton for season-long loan spells. The France international returned to Chelsea this term and credits Mourinho with laying the foundation for his development into a first-team regular.

"Mourinho opened the door to England for me. I was only 19 when I arrived. I was young," Zouma told France Football this week. "He gave me confidence by playing me in big games with a lot of intensity. He was the one who showed me what football in England was like. The coach is a man who hates losing. He taught me to hate defeat. Thanks to him, I was able to flourish at Chelsea. He gave me a lot of things and taught me a lot. I thank him."

Lampard's hands-on approach

Mourinho is now in charge at Tottenham, while Zouma is a regular under new Blues boss Frank Lampard. Chelsea have adapted quickly to their former midfielder's methods, winning eight of 13 league games to sit comfortably inside the top four. Zouma said: "He is a coach who is really close to us. It shows that he was still a player until recently. He talks to us a lot, participates a lot in training. When we work defensively on corners, he's the one who shoots. You should see the precision he has... it's amazing. He has so many qualities with his feet. He is still very strong."