Now, years later, Makelele has unveiled the deal he made with Chelsea to move to Stamford Bridge.

Makelele gave a promise to Chelsea

Claude Makelele’s departure from Real Madrid caused a small storm at Los Blancos in the early 2000s. He departed the same summer as coach Vicente Del Bosque and captain Fernando Hierro, but it was the absence of Makelele that was perhaps most felt in the side. Now, years later, Makelele has unveiled the deal he made with Chelsea to move to Stamford Bridge. “I saw how things were going at Real Madrid,” he said. “I told Chelsea that if I leave, I will go there and I gave them a promise. They did their best to sign me. I was 30 then, but they paid a sizable transfer fee anyway. I went to Chelsea because they came to me first. Other clubs like Inter and Manchester United approached me, and they have shown interest even before I went to Real Madrid.”

The Frenchman has never won the Champions League with Chelsea

For all his success with the Blues, Makelele never managed to win the Champions League title with Chelsea, reaching the 2008 finals, as the Blues fell on penalties to Manchester United. “It is not my biggest pain,” Makelele said. “Because I have already won the Champions League with Real Madrid. I don’t know if Chelsea were the best team not to win it, but we were brilliant. In my five seasons there, we made it to the semi-finals four times and the finals in 2008.” Backed by Roman Abramovich’s money and driven by Jose Mourinho on the sidelines, Chelsea have gone from a decent Premier League team to strength in English and European football.

“Not many clubs could achieve that,” Makelele added. “Lots of clubs are spending billions trying to do it.” Chelsea built that team very quickly and, apart from getting very close in the Champions League, we won everything in England for several years. It usually takes time to build a spirit as we did. I remember playing cards while getting ready for games, relaxing and laughing. We had a good atmosphere in the team, and no club in the world wanted to play against us.”