Who is Chelsea legend Marcel Desailly?

Marcel Desailly, who was born on 7 September 1968, is a French former professional football player. Marcel won many trophies, including UEFA Champions League medals with Marseille and Milan.

Desailly played for the English club Chelsea. Marcel began his career at Nantes. There, as part of the famed Nantes youth programme, Desailly played with a young Didier Deschamps, who became his closest friend.

Marcel turned professional in 1986, two years after his half-brother had died in a car accident. In 1992, Desailly moved to Marseille, where the defender reunited with Didier Deschamps and won the Champions League the following year.

In 1994, while playing for Milan, Marcel again won the Cup, being the first footballer to win the Cup in consecutive years with different teams. During his time in Milan, Desailly won two Italian league trophies in 1994 and 1996.

Marcel then moved to the English club Chelsea in 1998 for £4.6m, according to a report, where the defender captained the club and played sweeper and centre-back until the end of the 2003–04 campaign.

It was at the London club that Marcel formed a formidable partnership with Frank Leboeuf. Desailly picked up one major title in his six years with the Blues, being on the winning side in their FA Cup triumph over Aston Villa in 2000.

Marcel Desailly’s international career

Marcel has often said that he feels totally French and never even considered playing for a country other than France while having ties with Ghana. During an interview in Ghana, Desailly stated that he did not choose which country to play for as the defender was already established in Les Bleus youth side.

This attitude was restated in his autobiography, published in 2002. Marcel played his international debut game in 1993 but was not established as a first-choice centre-back until 1996.

Desailly was an essential part of Les Bleus, which won the 1998 Mundial, albeit being sent off in the final game. Like other team players, Marcel was appointed a Knight of the Legion of Honour in 1998.

Two years later, success continued, as Les Bleus won Euro 2000. After the competition, Marcel was made captain of Les Bleus, following the retirement of Didier Deschamps. In 2001, Desailly led Les Bleus to win the Confederations Cup.

In April 2003, Marcel surpassed the record for the number of games for Les Bleus, a number which eventually reached 116 when the defender announced his retirement from international football following the UEFA Euro 2004. However, that record was broken during the 2006 Mundial by Lilian Thuram.