Claude Makelele's takeoff from Real Madrid in the mid-year of 2003 was a significant happening in a chaotic spell that likewise caused their manager Vicente del Bosque and skipper Fernando Hierro to depart.
was born in Kinshasa, the capital of
, however, due to his French citizenship, he chose to play as The Les Bleus midfielder. He started his vocation in France with Nantes and Marseille prior to joining Celta Vigo in 1998.
After two years he joinedReal Madrid
, where he won two La Liga trophies and the Champions League. He joinedChelsea
in 2003 and won two Premier League titles with London Blues.
Every Real Madrid fan could feel the lack of quality in Makelele's position for a long time after his exit, and now Makelele has explained the reasons behind his choice in an interview with FourFourTwo published by Marca.
“Seeing how things were happening at Madrid, I told Chelsea that if I was going to go I’d go there,” Makelele said. “I made them a promise and they did everything possible to sign me. I was 30 years old at the time but they still paid for an important transfer.
“I went to Chelsea because they came in for me first. Then, other teams like Inter Milan and Manchester United approached me, who had also wanted me before I went to Madrid.
“I don’t know if that Chelsea were the best team to have never won [the Champions League], but we were brilliant. In my five seasons at Chelsea we reached the semi-final four times, including the 2008 final.
“Not many clubs achieve that, and many spend billions trying to achieve it. Chelsea created that team very quickly.
“Normally it takes time for a team to establish a spirit like we did. I remember playing cards while getting ready for games, to relax and laugh. A good atmosphere was created in that team and nobody in the world wanted to play us during those seasons.”
After Chelsea, Makelele went through three years withParis Saint-Germain
before hanging up his boots in 2011. The midfielder, who has been credited with redefining the defensive midfield role, was also in the squad for the French international team that lost the
2006 World Cup
finale to Italy.