Frank Lampard heaped praise on "ultimate professional" Olivier Giroud after the veteran French striker took his rare chance in Chelsea's starting lineup to score all four goals in the 4-0 Champions League win over Sevilla on Wednesday.
Giroud, whose only previous start this season came in the League Cup defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, was handed a start after scoring a vital late winner as a substitute in Chelsea's last Champions League outing at Rennes.
At 34 years and 63 days, Giroud became the oldest player to score a Champions League hat-trick and also the oldest to do it in the European Cup since former Hungarian great Ferenc Puskas did so in September 1965 for Real Madrid against Feyenoord.
He also became the first Chelsea player to score four goals in a single game since his manager Lampard achieved the feat against Aston Villa in March 2010.
"He is the ultimate professional," Lampard said after Chelsea secured the top spot in Group E with a match to spare.
"He isn't always a regular but his performances have shown that he is a great sign for young players to keep training well. It was an amazing performance, to score four goals in the Champions League is a fantastic achievement.
"It was a complete performance and I am delighted for him."
It was the second time the France striker had netted four in a game in his career but the previous occasion will seem like a distant memory as it came in the French second division for Tours against Arles-Avignon in 2009.
Giroud acknowledged he had a memorable night against Europa League holders Sevilla, who were lucky not to have lost by a bigger margin to the rampant visitors.
"When I am on the pitch I just try to enjoy it," he said. "I try to be patient and keep the faith, I just try to give something else to the team. Sometimes you feel anything can happen and this night was one of them."
Given Giroud's limited game time so far this season - having established himself as Chelsea's first-choice striker following the coronavirus shutdown - speculation has been rife that the France international could leave the club during the January transfer window.
However, Lampard previously stressed Giroud's importance to his plans when he said: “Oli is very important. “I want Oli to stay here because he will play. He was a big member of our squad last season."