By Chris Wright
Having scored his first goal in Chelsea colours against Bolton in the Capital One Cup last night, 19-year-old centre-half Kurt Zouma is attracting his fair share of attention today and rightly so.
Indeed, when the Premier League squad lists were announced a week or two ago, Zouma’s slightly strange middle name caused a ripple of mirth among fans – after all, let’s face it, it’s not ever day you come across a 6’3″ colossus of a defender whose middle name happens to by “Happy”.
And now, with his maiden Chelsea goal catapulting him into the limelight, we’ve finally been let in on the magical secret of Zouma’s name, courtesy of a quick chin-wag with the Blues’ official club site.
It turns out that Zouma was named after the title character in the 1989 movie Kickboxer – an aspiring kickboxer by the name of Kurt Sloane, as exquisitely portrayed by Jean-Claude Van Damme…
Five years later on, Zouma’s parents thought Van Damme’s heroic character possessed the kind of traits they wanted their son to grow up with and so decided to name their boy Kurt when he was born in Lyon in 1994.
Speaking to the Chelsea website, Zouma explained the thought process:
“In the film, he helps everyone and is super strong, so my parents decided that if they gave me that name I’d be hard and always have a smile.
“Apparently it worked!”
As for Zouma’s middle name, Happy, it would appear that it isn’t uncommon in some African cultures for desirable virtues to be given as names.
Presumably Kurt “Ass-kicker” Zouma was deemed a little too on-the-nose?