Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has lavished praise on centre-back Kurt Zouma after witnessing the 20-year-old’s impressive substitute appearance in Wednesday night’s 3-0 home win over Tottenham Hotspur.
Arriving from St. Etienne this summer after a £12 million pre-arranged deal, Zouma has made a total of four starts in the Champions League and Capital One Cup so far this season, but had been restricted to just one minute of Premier League football prior to the Spurs match.
The youngster was forced into action at Stamford Bridge, however, after Gary Cahill was forced off at half-time after taking a blow to the head, with his subsequent performance moving Mourinho to hail his contribution on the final whistle.
“He [Cahill] is ok. No concussion and he doesn't need special care. He was maybe just a bit afraid of heading the ball,” the Portuguese boss told Sky Sports News HQ.
"It was a good opportunity for Zouma. It was very good for him. He is playing very well every time he plays. Today against Tottenham it was a good test for him. He will be a big player for Chelsea.
“People look at his body and forget his age, but he’s a kid,” he continued. “He came on at half-time in a difficult situation, when Tottenham were behind and trying to push [for a goal], and the kid for me played a fantastic 45 minutes.”
Meanwhile, Mourinho also expressed delight at his team’s overall performance, after overcoming a slow start to chalk up another three points.
"We played against a very good team and they showed that during some periods in the game," he added.
"They started better than us and should have scored before us, but after our first goal our team became more stable and confident and we controlled the game.
"I am really happy with the three points, performance and spirit of the players. It's too heavy a result, though, for Tottenham."
Chelsea are now 23 games unbeaten in all competitions going into Saturday’s trip to Newcastle United - the joint-longest run in their history.