Former Chelsea midfielder Claude Makelele has opened up on his decision to join the Blues over the likes of Manchester United and Inter Milan in 2003.
The Frenchman spent five years at Stamford Bridge, winning the Premier League twice, as well as claiming an FA Cup title and two League Cups.
But things might have been different with Makelele having plenty of suitors when he was looking to leave Real Madrid one year on from his Champions League-winning campaign in the Spanish capital.
“I went to Chelsea because they came in first,” he told Four Four Two. “After that, several other teams approached me, including Manchester United and Inter, who had tried to sign me before I moved to Real.
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“Due to the way things were happening at Madrid, I told Chelsea, ‘If I go, I’ll come to you.’ I gave them a promise.
“They went to great lengths to sign me, as I was 30 by then but they still paid a significant transfer fee [£16.8 million].”
Makelele joined Chelsea in the midst of their transition following the arrival of owner Roman Abramovich.
Asked about how the club changed during the era, the Frenchman replied: “What changed was that Abramovich attracted some world-class players to the club.
“That’s what the boss did very well because, before then, those kind of players would move to Manchester United or Arsenal. I first played under Claudio Ranieri, before Jose Mourinho replaced him a year later.
Chelsea’s Didier Drogba and Claude Makelele
(Image: Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC Via Getty Images)
“I had a good relationship with both – I always had a good relationship with my managers throughout my career.”
Makelele was part of the Chelsea side that cruelly lost the 2008 Champions League final to Manchester United in Moscow.
“Obviously, it was a big disappointment,” he recalled. “When you get so close, the appetite is huge,…