His manager has nicknamed him "Makelele with legs" and Aston Villa midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker certainly intends to live up to that tag when he faces his namesake's club in the Boxing Day Battle of Stamford Bridge today.
The 23-year-old, who joined Martin O'Neill's side in the summer in an £8.5 million move from West Ham United, is modelling his game on Chelsea's holding player Claude Makelele and so far, with Villa maintaining a top-eight position, the Sierra-Leone born player believes it is working.
Reo-Coker said: "Makelele with legs - that's what Martin's called me and it is a massive compliment. Funnily enough when I was an apprentice at Wimbledon close friends used to call me Makelele and I didn't really like it then because I thought I was a lot more dynamic!"
The former England Under-21 skipper's new holding midfield role under Martin O'Neill, is a challenge and the player admits it has not been easy to switch from his previous attacking style of play.
He said: "I've had quite a good chat with the manager and I'm learning a new discipline and that's the holding midfield role.
"He want me to sit and he's complimenting my ability to get the ball back and keep it simple. He wants me to marshall the defence and it does work really well for the team and balances the team.
"It also gives Gareth Barry the freedom to express himself a lot more and helps both Ashley Young and Gabby Agbonlahor who have been tremendous along with John Carew.
"I am having to play with a lot of discipline and it's something I am working really hard at on the training ground. I don't think the gaffer thinks my discipline is that great and he's told me that!
"It's a new role and I know it's something I can do. I'm so nervous now of bombing forward because I'll get in trouble at half-time! I take one step forward, look at the sidelines and take four steps back!"
As Reo-Coker faces up to Makelele today, he reveals he studies the game intensely and has watched hours of taped footage of his Chelsea hero in action.
He said: "I have to stay in front of the back four and not really move. If you look at Makelele or Mikel at Chelsea they barely move out of position.
"They try to break up play and that's one of my main attributes. I was never a goalscoring midfielder and I will never be but that's not to say I don't have the ability to get goals. "
Reo-Coker said he was looking forward to the game but believes Chelsea will be out to seek revenge for Villa's 2-0 defeat of them just a few weeks ago at Villa Park.
He also knows while Villa have impressed on the road, Chelsea are formidable at home.
He continued: "It's very difficult in the Premier League these days to play away and create really good chances. I don't know why Chelsea are so formidable at home.
"I've been there with other teams but that was under Mourinho - they are a different side now under Avram Grant, a lot more free-flowing and an attacking football side."
Reo-Coker, who hopes to catch the eye of new England coach Fabio Capello this season after outgrowing the Under-21s, said he was not going into the game with any fear and always faced every match and every opponent, whoever he was marking, by trying to make himself known.
He said: "My approach is to show no fear, whether it's Chelsea home or away. I look to stamp my authority as quickly as possible, regardless of the opponent. I want my opponent to know he's been in a game and to work hard and when he comes off after 90 minutes to make sure he remembers my name.
"That's regardless of who you play. Every player has earned the right to play in the Premier League so it's not just about Frank Lampard because there are other good midfielders there as well.
"It's about me doing my job for Aston Villa and trying to achieve our goal at the end of the season which is to finish in Europe."
Reo-Coker's departure from West Ham may have come under a cloud after a rift with coaching staff and supporters but at Aston Villa he is a huge hit with the fans who have plastered his name on the back of their shirts.
He said: "The fans have been so great and they have made me feel so welcome. Before I moved here I was told it was a very quiet dressing room. Now all of a sudden everyone has got a bit of banter."
Villa go into today's match after back-to-back draws. Reo-Coker said: "We have to get as many wins as possible over Christmas to stay in touching distance of the teams that are second and third.
"If you are six or nine points from that at the end of January then you are having a great season. It's about pushing yourselves as a team for the last quarter of the season.
"People say we are Uefa Cup but why not Champions League? Why can't we make that step?"