It’s been a long road to recovery for young Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma, but the French stalwart is finally fit and finding a role in Antonio Conte’s side. After an eight-month layoff following a knee injury last season, Zouma is getting minutes again.
Despite the setback, Zouma never lost his trademark smile. And why would he? Kurt Happy Zouma is his full name, after all. Here’s the 22-year-old explaining how the unique name came to be, with a cameo from none other than Jean-Claude Van Damme, of course! Via The Mirror:
“Yeah, it’s true,” laughs the Frenchman. “It was my father.
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“When my mother was pregnant, my father was watching a Van Damme movie. He was killing everybody and fighting everyone.
“And my father said, ‘Yeah, this one we’re going to call him Kurt [Van Damme plays Kurt Sloane in the 1989 movie Kickboxer] because he’s going to be strong and Happy because he’s going to laugh every time.’
“Now when I see them I say, ‘Daddy, I respect you. Every time I laugh and I’m big and strong. Thank you, Dad.’
If there’s a better way to come up with a name, I’d like to hear it. That’s a comic-book level origin story, and the prophecy came true! During his layup from the right knee injury, where he tore ligaments, Zouma said he kept a positive attitude. In his mind, that attitude helped his recovery.
“If you give up and you’re sad every day you’re going to struggle. I keep laughing. I’m still young, enjoy the life. I’m a footballer, I have a great life. So let’s laugh.”
And laugh, he does.
Zouma’s working his way back into the Chelsea side, featuring primarily in cup matches thus far, but the hulking center back has looked impressive in his limited action. Being named after an ’80s action hero, Zouma has a lot to live up to.
Kurt Sloane made a fantastic comeback in “Kickboxer” … perhaps Kurt Happy Zouma can, too.