This should have been a season to remember for Kurt Zouma. He has finally managed to make his breakthrough in the Chelsea squad, he displaced Gary Cahill from the first team, and has partnered John Terry for most of the season. The young Frenchman played in 33 competitive matches and amassed over 2300 minutes of football this season. This month, he was about to start enjoying the fruits of his labor when he was scheduled face Ibrahimovic and company in the Champions League round of 32 this coming Tuesday.
Another occasion which would have made this year even more special was supposed to be his involvement in Euro 2016 in his home country. He is currently one of four elite centre backs France can rely on, and provided he continued impressing for the London outfit, he could have hoped to earn some minutes on home soil this summer.
However, all of his hopes came crushing down like a house of cards on Sunday, when Manchester United came to town. Kurt had an impressive game and dealt easily with the threat posed by Rooney, Martial and Mata, and even though the Red Devils tried to find a way to Courtois’ goal, it was usually down Ivanovic’s right flank and never through the middle where Zouma operates.
Then, sometime before the hourmark, Zouma jumped to clear a loose ball and landed extremely awkwardly on his right knee. It was obvious to everyone watching the game that the moment he hit the ground he felt an excruciating pain and knew that his season was most probably over.
Chelsea and Guus Hiddink decided to wait until further scans were done on Monday, before making an official announcement, but those scans only reaffirmed what everyone else had already known – the injury was very serious.
Zouma, himself, was the first to announce on Twitter that he was out for at least 6 months, with the official diagnosis being an injury to his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). These types of injuries require a surgery and, as in Zouma’s case, the rehabilitation period is somewhere around 6 months.
An ACL injury is by far the worst injury an athlete can suffer. A recent study found out that around 30% of football players never come back to play football again after an ACL injury, and that the actual recovery time is not 6 months, but around one year. It is also considered as common knowledge that if players ever get to their previous levels of performance, it’s only after 2 years after the injury.
In fact, Chelsea have a living proof of these unfortunate statistics in their ranks at the moment. Even though Radamel Falcao returned to football after his ACL injury in a cup match for AS Monaco, he never even came close to his previous levels of performance and is now a shadow of his former self.
This all sounds rather depressing for Zouma, but he still seems to be looking at the bright side of things and claims that he will return stronger than ever next season. This is nothing new for the player, whose full name is Kurt Happy Zouma, since he always seemed to have an air of optimism and happiness around him.
This is strange for people who don’t know Kurt. In fact, most people, and French people especially, probably feel happy when they visit english language casinos for French gamblers and win large sums of money. They are the nation that apparently invented the 52 card deck, blackjack and the roulette wheel, and they have an unparalleled love of everything which is games and entertainment related. That’s why it isn’t surprising when they say that betting and casino games are like second nature for them.
Happy however, is not your typical Frenchman. He seems to be content just with recovering from his ACL injury as soon as possible and getting back on the pitch. Considering that this is the player which has been compared to Marcel Desailly, and touted as the next Chelsea captain, we all share his sentiments and hope that he comes back the same player he was before the injury, and proves that an ACL injury is no match for an athlete and professional like him.