Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud’s “fantastic” personality, selflessness and impeccable fitness levels are behind his longevity, according to Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel.
The 34-year-old has had to be patient this season, both under Tuchel and former boss Frank Lampard.
Giroud has only started 10 games from a total of 22 club appearances this season, but he has scored 11 goals.
And the World Cup winner, France’s second all-time leading goalscorer with 44 goals in 105 games, has proved his worth with vital goals against Newcastle in the Premier League and the midweek winner against Atletico Madrid in the first leg of the last-16 Champions League tie.
“He trains very well, he is a leader in the group, a big personality,” Tuchel said at a press conference prior to Sunday’s league game against Manchester United. “Even when he has not started he deserves to start.
“He is as fit as ever and you can rely on his physical impact. It’s hard to play against him. He is used to playing a high rhythm, used to playing in the Premier League, and this helps him stay in this high level.
“He is very self-aware. He is in a fantastic mood every day, pushing everybody around him to win every little game we do in training, and being very positive with everybody.
“That didn’t change when he didn’t start or he comes off the bench.
“This is what in the end makes the difference for good players and big personalities, because for sure Oli is a big personality.”
Tuchel said he saw similarities with Edinson Cavani, the Manchester United striker who Tuchel managed for more than two years at Paris St Germain.
The German added: “Their fitness is key. Oli is 100 per cent fit – zero body fat – and it’s the same as Edi.
“Edi is a player like Oli, who as a number nine, is always concerned about the team, ready to suffer for the team and sacrifice for the team, to do runs and open spaces, always ready to defend.
“This is the characteristics of them both. In the box they are both excellent finishers.
“They have the experience, they don’t get nervous, they have the composure. Both top-quality strikers, and for me their fitness and self-discipline is key to their success.”