Having worked as an assistant manager alongside Carlo Ancelotti in the likes of Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, and Real Madrid, Paul Clement has seen firsthand what makes superstars such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic so special.
While full of praise for a range of Blues icons, the English coach reserved special praise for two attackers currently competing in Serie A for Juventus and AC Milan respectively.
The two Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic have dominated in front of goal for the past 15 years with Clement imagining how both would seem to give themselves an edge over their opposition off the pitch.
“Two special characters and people as players were Zlatan and Cristiano,” Clement said on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Euro Leagues podcast.
“Of course, everybody can see the special talents they are on the pitch but on a personal level, they’re also interesting, funny and confident.
“Zlatan does it quite openly, speaks very confidently – and sometimes it’s arrogance, but that is exactly what he is. He used to be like that on a daily basis and would ask me questions like ‘What is Didier Drogba like?’ I would go into detail about what he’s good at and Zlatan would be like, ‘He isn’t as great as me’ and would make you laugh.
“They were both very professional on and off the field. The way they looked after their bodies with recovery, understanding of nutrition.
“At his home in Madrid, Cristiano had special recovery facilities that you would find at a club or a wellness spa. He had a cold plunge; he really invested in his profession and health.
“Those types of people go the extra mile.”
Desperate for success, both players are no strangers to demanding a lot from their teammates with Clement admitting Ibrahimovic, in particular, could be rather intimidating in that regard.
“I remember how strong Zlatan was with his team-mates [in PSG]. I haven’t seen anyone need so much from his team-mates,” Clement said.
“Brazilian left-back Maxwell was an example of this – someone who he played at Ajax, Inter, Barcelona, and PSG. When Zlatan had a go at Maxwell about something in a game or in training, he would only tell him where to go.”