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We are Chelsea

Jose M

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They are Chelsea and as they prepare to entertain Arsenal on Sunday it is time to appreciate properly the Double-winners.

The new-age Chelsea is embodied by Florent Malouda, an exceptional athlete but blessed with fabulous technique and a deep hinterland of character.

"I'm a father and husband first and after that a footballer," reflected Malouda, probably the Premier League player of 2010, a Frenchman with a ready smile as he sat at Cobham, talking eloquently.

"I couldn't have that smile as a player if I didn't have my family beside me. When I began to have success in football, a lot of extra responsibilities came on my shoulders. If I hadn't had that solid base with my family, I could have been crushed. Success in my personal life gives me strength to fight and become a good footballer.

"My family are my best judge. Just after the Community Shield, when we lost against Man U, I came home and my four-year-old son [Aaron] was crying. That affected me more than the game.

"He's Chelsea 200 per cent. He didn't want to show me he was crying but he was. Every time I come home, he says: 'Did you win?' or 'I saw you lose'.

"When we conceded the goal at Man City, my wife [Florencia] told me he started crying. That's the biggest pressure I've got. My oldest daughter [Kelys] is nine, in school with kids who support other teams, so she says: 'Daddy, you have to win!' It's funny but it shows me the responsibilities I have in my career! It affects my family."

Childhood experiences inevitably moulded Malouda's personality.

"I come from a divorced family. I grew up with my mother and even though she was struggling in life she made me and my brothers travel to open up our minds. We started around French Guyana and went to Surinam and Brazil. It gave me a different perspective.

"What I appreciate most in my career is being able to travel the world and meet a lot of different people. It's really a privilege to be at Chelsea.

"My son wants to start playing for Chelsea. Didier Drogba's son is playing for the club. Maybe in 10 to 15 years, we'll be in the stands, watching our sons. I wish for a dynasty! After my career, I hope to work with Chelsea, and keep going the special feeling I have now. Not coaching! I'll leave that with JT!"


The stereotyping of the club of John Terry and Ashley Cole as a brash, cash-flashing behemoth bemused Malouda.

"Sometimes I just laugh. Some people are interested in the 'big story', the 'cars and girls'.

"They are not interested in the people. Even before I came here, people were talking about Chelsea with a bad image, saying it was big money, but they were not thinking about the special relationship between the people who work for the club and the players.

"Even in the small clubs I've been at [like Châteauroux and Guingamp], I never had this atmosphere. I'm 30 and this is the best feeling I've had in my whole career.

"What we did last season with the Double was really special. The fans love us. Most of the players really appreciate the atmosphere at this club. You can see the players have committed themselves to the club long term."

Open the door to the home dressing room and some controversial people lurk within, individuals like Terry, Drogba, Nicolas Anelka and Cole. To Malouda, they are friends as well as professional colleagues, they are human beings.

"JT is part of the tradition of Chelsea. When it's tough and we are shaking, John is the leader who keeps us on the right path. John sets the tone before the game, analysing us to feel if we are ready or not. If he feels we are too relaxed, he will remind us: 'Guys we have to be ready'.

"Sometimes at half-time, even when we are winning, if he feels we are too relaxed, and becoming sloppy, he reminds us to be focused. John shouts and speaks. When a young player starts his first game, John has a chat with him.

"If a player is in a bad mood, John speaks with him. He keeps everyone together. John might have his own problems, but he has to deal with everybody else's.

"Didier is a leader, a big character. In the big games, I feel this is what he is waiting for. He says: 'Stay behind me and I'll show you the way. I will take responsibility.' He makes sure everybody is motivated.

"He can get too emotional but that's the way Didier is. He plays with passion. When I was in Lyon, playing against Marseille, I could feel the Marseille fans' love for Didier. Didier is really sensitive to that love. It is the same here at Chelsea. He loves to feel loved. He's a showman.

"Nicolas keeps everything inside. He's very sensitive. After the World Cup [when Anelka sent home early by France], the club surrounded Nicolas with love and he was really sensitive to that.

"People say he's not showing any emotion but I see it. I see Nicolas smile. He's really happy here. He doesn't give his trust easily. He needs to know you, know he can trust you, before he opens up."

Malouda has built up a particularly effective left-sided axis with Cole. "Ashley knows when he goes forward I'll try to find him, even though the space is tight," added Malouda, also stressing Cole's popularity inside Stamford Bridge.

"People like Ashley. Every one of us has been on the front page of the papers. Life goes on. The most important thing is that you keep the trust of the players. I hope we will always have that bond."

The champions' unity has been strengthened by Carlo Ancelotti's shrewd stewardship. "When everything is good, sometimes you don't need a manager," continued Malouda, "but when we lost against Man City and Inter Milan last season, he gave us confidence again.

"Even though we were shaking, he was the reference point. He keeps calm, in control and lets us know 'everything will be OK. Be philosophical under pressure. Keep believing'.

"Even when we are winning, he always tells us, 'you won't win all games 4-0, you have to fight hard in every game and deliver another great performance. You are playing for a big club'. He's really close to the players. We can speak about anything with him from families to national team disappointment."

Ah, those other Blues. Malouda endured a wretched summer, used poorly by Raymond Domenech as Les Misérables managed to eclipse even England in stinking out South Africa.

"It wasn't easy with France, even before the World Cup," said Malouda, recalling Thierry Henry's infamous hand-ball in the play-off against Ireland.

"A lot of people in the world said it was a disgrace. I wasn't very proud of the way we qualified but we had to go there and try to show we deserved it. Unfortunately, the results didn't give us the right.

"I came back with a lot of questions but not a lot of answers. The best therapy was to get back to Chelsea, to work on my confidence. I was so happy to get back to Chelsea. It was like returning to the family, a great feeling. There was extra motivation.

"For the English players, the fans were waiting to see their performance. They showed they are good players. For me, it was the same.

"I didn't think of retiring after the World Cup but it has always been difficult for me in the national team. I became a leader with Chelsea and I want to with France. In the summer, I never felt considered a leader with France. With the new manager [Laurent Blanc], the atmosphere is more positive.

"We respect him because of his playing career and because of his managerial style with Bordeaux. But there are still a lot of expectations.

"We are France, a big nation. When you look at our Fifa ranking [27], we are dropping. That is the message from the manager: 'We have to get back to first'."

For Chelsea, the target is the Champions League. Surely, the dream is taking on Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid in the final at Wembley? "Everyone speaks about José!" laughed Malouda of the Special One who brought him to the Bridge.

"I felt he always knew which button to press to get something out of me. José analyses your personality. He puts you under pressure, wants you to be close to perfection.

"But, honestly, I don't care about the opponent at Wembley. I just want to be there. We are a big club, we want to win the Champions League but we are aware it is so difficult.

"In my first year, we played the final in Moscow and lost on penalties. We have always lost against the winner, so we know how tight it is. If we are strong, and believe, we can do it."

Balance and belief: the Malouda way.


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Imagine Drogbas Kid playing for Chelsea :)blue%20scalf.gif

I think Ballack's son was also playing in the same age group as Didiers son. Under 10s I think it was. Let's hope Ballack moves back to London when he retires. Imagine that; Didier, Malouda and Ballack's sons all playing for Chelsea. A wild dream but just imagine! B)

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