His attributes as a defensive midfielder saw the French footballer have a positional play named after him, the ‘Makelele Role’ which epitomised the type of play he was endeared for. A key player in Chelsea’s first league title victory in 50 years, we take a look at the top quotes on Claude Makelele.
Born in the former country of Zaire, Makelele started his career in France, before moving onto Spain, and a stint with Real Madrid, before joining up with Chelsea FC in the summer of 2003.
His departure from Real was an unusual one as he was criticised by the club president due to his lack of footballing abilities but was highly valued amongst the ‘super’ stars of the team, including the manager. It was a blessing in disguise for the London team as his presence helped Chelsea to the runner’s-up spot in the league, before the club won a couple of trophies, including the league, the following season.
He was named the player of the year by the new manager Jose Mourinho, and went on to play for another three seasons at Stamford Bridge, winning three more major honours.
Makelele finished his career at Paris Saint-Germain, after a career total of over 600 league games. His performances for the French national team amounted to two selections each for the World Cup and European Championship tournaments.
His role as a midfielder providing a defensive back-up to the more offensive forward players helped to highlight the type of play in the top flight league, and led to it being used as a model for other players taking up that position.
“Why put another layer of gold paint on the Bentley when you are losing the entire engine?”
Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid manager on player’s departure)
“Makelele is more than a mere defensive midfielder, but is actually Chelsea’s deep-lying playmaker, and Chelsea’s attacks are all channelled through him.”
Chris Coleman (Fulham manager)
“I thought Claude Makelele was the greatest defensive midfielder around. He’s probably one of the best I’ve ever seen…..he did a lot of the hard work…..I think he was the most important player we had…..”
Steve McManaman (Real Madrid player)
“…..we knew that Zidane, Raul, and Figo didn’t track back, so we had to put a guy in front of the back four who would defend.”
Arrigo Sacchi (Real Madrid director)
“We found a role that was perfectly well suited to him…..He stopped trying to dribble or playing the final pass. Instead, he prevented others. It was the right option as his game blossomed.”
Jean-Claude Suaudeau (Nantes coach)
“Stop Makelele, Stop Chelsea…..”
“…..he’s been the best player in the team for years but people just don’t notice him.”
Fernando Hierro (former Real Madrid player)
“…..I played with Claude Makelele and I thought he was the best in that position…..”
Joe Cole (former Chelsea player)
“We are very pleased to welcome Claude back to Chelsea, where he made such an impact during five excellent years as a player…..His long and successful career on the field, added to his winning mentality…..He will be a valuable asset to both our academy and first-team coaching staff.”
Marina Granovskaia (Chelsea club director)
“…..he was the best player at Real. We all knew, the players all knew he was the most important. The loss of Makelele was the beginning of the end for Los Galacticos.”
“…..the most important and yet least appreciated midfielder at Real”
“Claude Makelele will bring the club the benefit of his experience…..It’s a source of great satisfaction to have someone of Claude Makalele’s qualities alongside me, with his complete profile, both through his career as an international player and as a coach.”
Vadim Vasilyev (vice-president of AS Monaco)
“…..he covered every blade of grass on the pitch, doing a lot of everyone’s work for them…..They go about their business, Maka especially, without doing anything spectacular but doing everything brilliantly…..He is a great lad as well off the pitch, and he was a real piece of the jigsaw in our great success…..He was always an intelligent player tactically, and the position he played he had to be aware. He understood the game fully.”
John Terry (Chelsea team-mate)