Chelsea midfielder Florent Malouda has saluted Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs and Inter's Javier Zanetti as inspirational figures behind his own career.
Malouda joined Chelsea in 2007 from Olympique Lyonnais and as he moves into his thirties at Stamford Bridge, he hopes to follow in the footsteps of the aforementioned duo, aswell as former AC Milan star Paolo Maldini, by remaining an integral member of a top club.
Speaking to Fifa.com, Malouda stated: "Ryan Giggs and Javier Zanetti are the references for me in terms of my career, just as Paolo Maldini was.
"It happens less and less these days, but it’s an extraordinary thing to stay at a club that can win everything and remain competitive into your 30s.
"It’s true that we play less, but we still give an awful lot on the pitch."
Malouda has played his part in Chelsea's good start to the season under Andre Villas-Boas, scoring in the 2-1 home win against West Bromwich Albion, but he knows that the Blues must be at a high level throughout the entire Premier League season if they are to challenge for the title, against not only the so-called 'big four', but also Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur.
"People talk about the 'big four', but for quite a while now Manchester City have been on the rise and so have Tottenham, who are quite dangerous," added Malouda.
"Teams everywhere look to progress and shake up the established order, but that’s especially true in England where clubs invest such a lot."
Nevertheless, despite the ascension of sides like City and Spurs, in the last two seasons the title race has effectively come down to matches between Chelsea and Manchester United, and Malouda believes that with the additions at Stamford Bridge this season, the 2009-10 Premier League winners will be there or thereabouts once more.
"That’s the way it’s been since 2004," emphasised the Frenchman.
"A real rivalry has developed, with the title going to one team and second place to the other, or vice versa. It’s always a fierce battle right up until the end. Last season, we lost the title at Old Trafford, and the year that before we won it there. History has been repeating itself a bit recently.
"This season, our senior players have stayed, and ambitious, talented youngsters have come on board. That mix of experience and hunger should allow us to remain competitive in every competition."