Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma has reacted positively to compliments bestowed on him by manager Jose Mourinho following the League Cup final triumph over Tottenham Hotspur on 1 March but insists comparisons to Marcel Desailly are a touch premature.
The inclusion of Zouma, 20, for the big occasion at Wembley came as somewhat of a surprise given it was in the somewhat unfamiliar position of defensive midfield. Despite initially appearing somewhat tentative, the Saint-Etienne youth product grew into and flourished in his new role, protecting a resolute Chelsea defence who shackled the attacking threat of Mauricio Pochettino's side with considerable aplomb.
Clearly delighted with the youngster's impressively mature display alongside Ramires and Cesc Febregas, and in the absence of the suspended Nemanja Matic, a delighted Mourinho dubbed Zouma the club's "new Desailly" after the match and hailed his defensive impact.
And while the player is obviously happy to receive such lofty praise, he urged caution when mentioning him in the same breath as his respected compatriot who secured legendary status at Stamford Bridge during a six-year spell between 1998 and 2004.
"It's a lovely thing for the boss to say that I'm the new Marcel Desailly," the modest Zouma told the London Evening Standard. "But it's too early to say that because Marcel is a legend of Chelsea - I have only played a few games. I'm only 20 years old and I have to improve every day. When the manager says that about me, it just makes me very happy. I enjoy it."
Desailly is one of Zouma's football heroes
Zouma, who has yet to make his senior international debut but has represented France at various youth levels, also claimed Desailly was one of his footballing heroes. He expressed a desire to meet the man himself at some stage in the future.
"Desailly is one of my idols," he continued. "I loved this player before. He is amazing to me so I'm very proud [to be compared to him]. But I have to keep working and continue. I have never seen or spoken to him, but I hope I will one day."
Chelsea have little time to rest and celebrate the first trophy of the new Mourinho era, with a trip to London rivals West Ham to come in the Premier League on 4 March.
The leaders currently enjoy a five-point buffer over their nearest challengers and will have a chance to extend that lead even further at Upton Park after reigning champions Manchester City were beaten 2-1 by Liverpool in an enthralling encounter at Anfield.
Chelsea, who have a real chance of progressing through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League with the decisive leg of their last-16 tie against Paris Saint-Germain on 11 March, boast enormous strength in depth throughout their squad and it certainly does not look beyond them to secure a hat-trick of trophies this season.