Denis Zakaria never expected to wait two months to make his Chelsea debut after coming on loan from Juventus. The midfielder is now hopeful of establishing himself in Graham Potter’s team after an outstanding debut last night.
Zakaria joined Chelsea on a season-long loan on transfer deadline day. A driving aspect in his choice to relocate from Turin was to work with head coach Thomas Tuchel, an experience that lasted just five days before the German parted company with the Blues after a breakdown in his relationship with the club’s new management.
Tuchel’s dismissal was a shock to Zakaria – as he revealed in an interview with football.london last month – and he has had to remain patient under Graham Potter. Despite October’s grueling schedule, the Switzerland international has never come off the bench.
Zakaria’s possible January return to Juventus led to questions over whether he would play versus Zagreb. Zakaria, 25, impressed in midfield for Potter against Croatia.
The Swiss star played 70 minutes and scored the game-winning goal after Mason Mount set him up. Zakaria was surprised it took so long to make his Chelsea debut.
“For me sure [it was a surprise], a little bit,” he added. “But certainly, it was a new coach who opted to do it like manner. Accept and work. I worked on myself to be ready for this moment, and I’m glad I was.
“It is a great feeling [to score on my debut]. I am really delighted and proud about this goal and I hope it won’t be the last goal. Hope to play more Coach decides. I’ll train hard and attempt to help if I’m on the field.
Zakaria was replaced by Ruben Loftus-Cheek with 20 minutes left and received a standing ovation as he returned to the dugout. The midfielder was thrilled. “Amazing, the fans are great, so I’m thrilled,” he remarked.
“I hadn’t played in a while, so my body was fatigued and crampy.” Then I got kicked, so I left.”