It is almost 15 months to the day that Olivier Giroud lifted the World Cup trophy above his head, surrounded by his fellow French team mates after they had prevailed over Croatia to be crowned champions for the second time.
Only back in May of this year, Giroud was parading with another prestigious trophy, cradling the Europa League as a Chelsea player, having seen off fellow Premier League rival Arsenal.
His contribution in both instances was vital; in Russia, he featured in all seven matches for 'Le Bleus' without finding the back of the net, whereas in the club competition he ended as the tournament’s top marksmen (11 goals), also scoring during the finale in Baku.
These achievements seem to have been long forgotten as Giroud has been snubbed to the side-lines by Chelsea boss Frank Lampard, which isn't sitting well with the converted striker.
Young blood over old body
At the age of 33, Giroud has been forced to make way for the rising star that is Tammy Abraham, currently the joint top scorer in England's top division.
This trend of acting second fiddle in attack is nothing new for Giroud, who has been forced to do throughout his spell in the capital. At Arsenal, Alexandre Lacazette, Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck trumped Giroud, whilst Gonzalo Higuain and Alvaro Morata were ahead in the pecking order for the Blues with Maurizio Sarri in charge.
With Lampard now at the helm and clearly identifying youth at the core of his managerial DNA, the Frenchman must undertake the feeling of being second best once again.
However, this is not something he has taken lightly, expressing his emotions to Le Pelerin (forwarded by the Evening Standard), saying, "Accept it? No, I do not accept it.
“You do not have to be fatalistic in certain situations. I have always been respectful and humble. Even if I do not agree with the coach, I do not criticise him.”
On the search for answers
For a man who has scored 182 goals for club and country across his career it comes as a surprise Giroud has started just twice in the league since April 3; since then, he has scored three goals for Chelsea.
This obviously doesn't tell the whole story: Sarri would not have lifted silverware in his maiden campaign if not for the scoring exploits of his French forward and Didier Deschamps would not be a World Cup winning coach had Giroud not been such a key link in his front line.
All these aspects have accumulated to cause the former Montpellier striker to question his lack of involvement.
"But in myself, I cannot accept it because I know what I'm worth on a pitch", he continued. "Last year, when I felt that I deserved to play, I asked the coach for explanations."
In unexpected circumstances, Chelsea offered Giroud a new one-year contract until the end of 2019/20 eight days before the Europa League final. In the meantime, Higuain re-joined Juventus and Morata moved back to Spain with Athletico Madrid, both competitors for the Blues main forward.
"I had competitors in attack – [Alvaro] Morata, [Gonzalo] Higuain, who ended up leaving," Giroud remarked triumphantly. "I won at the end: I played the final of the FA Cup in 2018 and the [Europa League] final in 2019."
Gunners providing the platform
Going from the Gunners to Stamford Bridge in 2018, Giroud was leaving at the same moment Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was arriving at the Emirates.
It turned out to be the correct move for both parties, as the former would lift the FA Cup for the fourth time with his new blue squad.
Yet, Giroud was thankful for both the move but also what Arsenal had done for him in the six seasons he was in North London, saying, “It was not easy to leave Arsenal for Chelsea two years ago. I loved Arsenal.”
Chelsea had recently won their fifth league title under Antonio Conte, a reason for Giroud's switch of allegiance.
"But it was a progression because Chelsea is the English club that has won the most titles, with Manchester City, in ten years."
He once more finds himself in an all too familiar position of neglection; nonetheless, he remains positive and hopes he can overcome another barrier.
"I'm starting the year in difficulty, but as my brother said, I have always built myself in the face of adversity. Although I would like there to be less!"