Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma has revealed the extent of the pressure placed on players to achieve perfection by manager Jose Mourinho and claims he has learned to hate losing during his short stint at Stamford Bridge.
Centre-back Zouma has only been in English football for a matter of months. Although signed officially from Saint-Etienne in a £12m deal in January 2014, the 20-year-old returned to the Ligue 1 outfit on loan for the remaining months of last season before joining Chelsea on a full-time basis in the summer.
While yet to break into the starting line-up on a permanent basis, the player has shown obvious signs of progression in West London and his growing maturity was perfectly evidenced by an impressive performance in an unfamiliar defensive midfield berth during the Capital One Cup final victory over Tottenham on 1 March.
Zouma, who was favourably compared to Marcel Desailly in the aftermath of that triumph at Wembley, is clearly benefiting greatly from working under Mourinho's gaze and knows he will be pushed hard by the Portuguese in pursuit of brilliance.
"Mourinho puts pressure on all his players. It is very demanding - he wants perfection from everyone. He won't let you take a month to fix something," he told L'Equipe, according to a report in the Daily Express.
"In defence, he asked me to move tactically, to be well placed to listen to the older players around me, John [Terry] and Gary Cahill. Initially, in midfield, I was obsessed with the ball - I was not paying enough attention to the players behind me - but it's something I've been working on. In midfield, it's different. He asks me to use my power and stay in place to help the defence."
As the mastermind behind two Champions League triumphs and winner of no fewer than seven domestic titles across four different countries, Mourinho is renowned for his seemingly insatiable will to win.
Such a desire to succeed appears to be rubbing of on his players, too, with Zouma claiming that defeats should simply not be tolerated as Chelsea look to secure a first top-flight title since they won the double under Carlo Ancelotti in 2010.
"[I've learned] to hate losing," he continued. "The only thing you get when you lose is the right to eat in the evening. When we play at Chelsea, we should not accept losing."
Although mentors Cahill and Terry remain ahead of him in the pecking order at club level, Zouma received his first taste of senior international football over the weekend as he featured for the final eight minutes of France's 2-0 friendly win over Denmark.