Malouda eager to maintain work ethic and ignore Blues' celebrity circus
IN his spare time, Florent Malouda likes to visit recording studios in Paris, organise music festivals in South America and hang out with Wyclef Jean in New York, but he wants to dispel the notion that Chelsea's A-listers enjoy a Hollywood-style high life.
As if to prove his point, the France winger reveals that, had he not made it as a footballer, Plan B was to train as a sound engineer, hardly the ambition of a man easily seduced by glitz and glamour.
There have been times in the past few months when the celebrity circus surrounding Chelsea threatened to engulf them, but as the season approaches its climax, the message from the dressing-room is that the players are eager to get down to business (even if that message is barely audible through the heavy bass of Malouda's beloved reggae music).
"There have been some difficult times this season, but as a club we stayed together and tried to stay calm even if there were disturbing events around," Malouda said.
"There was a spotlight, but it wasn't the first one and it won't be the last. The first one was when I came here and Jose Mourinho was gone. There were helicopters in the sky (above the training ground) and everything.
"We don't want people to think about Chelsea the way they were speaking about the club, like it was Hollywood. It's not like that. We work hard every day. We want to win trophies. We work hard together and we want to achieve everything together."
Malouda won the French title four times in as many years with Lyons, but has lifted only one trophy, the FA Cup, since joining Chelsea in 2007.
The winger had his pick of Europe's top clubs -- Real Madrid and Liverpool made formal bids -- but opted for Chelsea on the basis of a glimpse into Didier Drogba's trophy cabinet on an earlier visit to London.
The pair have been friends since playing on opposite sides for Chateauroux and Le Mans in the French second division before getting together at Guingamp and now exert an increasingly powerful influence at Stamford Bridge.
If Chelsea succeed in overturning United's one-point lead to claim the title, Malouda will deserve more credit than most.
Along with Drogba, the 29-year-old has been Chelsea's best player this season, a remarkable transformation -- which he attributes largely to the shrewd management of Ancelotti -- from the disappointing form of his first two years at the club. (© The Times, London)