Who is Chelsea legend Claude Makelele?
Claude Makelele Sinda, who was born on 18 February 1973 in Kinshasa, is a French former professional footballer. In his playing career, which ended at PSG, Claude also played for Nantes, Marseille, Celta Vigo, Real Madrid and Chelsea.
Makelele won league trophies in France, Spain and England, as well as the 2001–02 Champions League during his time with Real Madrid.
Regarded as one of the greatest footballers in his position, Claude has been credited with redefining the defensive midfield role in English football, especially during the 2004–05 Premier League campaign, where Makelele played a crucial role in helping the London club win the trophy with 95 points.
In homage, the defensive midfield position is sometimes colloquially known as the “Makelele Role”. In the summer of 2003, Claude signed for the Blues for £16.8m, where then coach Claudio Ranieri proclaimed that the Frenchman would be the “battery” of the club.
Following the sacking of Ranieri and his succession by Jose Mourinho, Claude was a crucial figure in the London club’s successful 2004–05 campaign, winning both the Premier League and the League Cup.
The 2007–08 campaign was a period of renaissance for the French midfielder, as Makelele played in the majority of the Blues’ games.
Claude Makelele’s international career
Claude was first capped for Les Bleus in a game with Norway in summer 1995 and went on to represent France at the 1996 Summer Olympics.
Claude was not selected for Les Bleus’ 1998 Mundial and Euro 2000 successes, making his competition debut at the 2002 World Cup, where Makelele started Les Bleus’ final Group A game with Denmark, according to a report.
At Euro 2000, the Frenchman was a first-choice footballer in midfield, starting in three of Les Bleus’ four games.
Claude decided to retire from international football in September 2004 in order to focus on club football with Chelsea, but 11 months later, in summer 2005, Makelele and his compatriots Zinedine Zidane and Lilian Thuram were persuaded out of retirement to help Les Bleus qualify for the 2006 Mundial in Germany.
As a member of the Les Bleus squad competing at the 2006 World Cup, Claude’s displays as a tireless midfield spoiler were invaluable to Les Bleus’ progress to the final as they defeated Spain, the defending champions Brazil and Euro 2004 finalists Portugal in the knock-out rounds.
His partnership with Patrick Vieira in the defensive midfield proved effective as France conceded just three goals in seven matches and took four clean-sheets, a tally only bested by world champions Italy.