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Claude Makélélé
Claude Makélélé.jpg
Personal information
Full name Claude Makélélé Sinda
Date of birth 18 February 1973 (1973-02-18) (age 37)
Place of birth Kinshasa, Zaire
Height 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)
Playing position Defensive midfielder
Club information
Current club Paris Saint-Germain
Number 4
Youth career
Stade Brestois
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1992–1997 Nantes 169 (9)
1997–1998 Marseille 32 (2)
1998–2000 Celta Vigo 70 (3)
2000–2003 Real Madrid 126 (1)
2003–2008 Chelsea 144 (2)
2008– Paris Saint-Germain 55 (1)
National team
1995–2008 France 71 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 22 February 2010.
† Appearances (Goals).

Claude Makélélé Sinda (born 18 February 1973) is a French international football player who currently plays defensive midfield for Paris Saint-Germain in the French Ligue 1 and also serves as their captain. Prior to joining Paris Saint-Germain, Makélélé played for Nantes (1992–1997), Olympique de Marseille (1997–1998), Celta Vigo (1998–2000), Real Madrid (2000–2003) and Chelsea (2003–2008). He is widely considered the premier defensive midfielder of the modern game, which is often named after him, being called the "Makélélé Role."[1]




Early career

Claude Makélélé was born in Kinshasa, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). "Makelele" means "noises" in Lingala [2], one of the languages spoken in Congo DR.

He moved to Savigny-le-Temple, a suburb of Paris in Seine-et-Marne, in 1977, when he was four years old. His father, André-Joseph Makélélé, was also a football player. He represented the Congo DR, and ended his career in the Belgian first division.

Makélélé had never left Savigny-le-Temple until the age of 16, when he joined the training centre of Brest-Armorique in Brittany. According to him, it wasn't easy to adapt to the new life in Brest. The training academy life was tough, especially as it was the first time he was far from his family.

He worked very hard in Brest, but it was in Nantes where he discovered the real pleasure of playing. Makélélé was recruited by FC Nantes Atlantique in December 1991, when he was still 18 years old. Robert Budzinski, the Sport director from Nantes confessed that once he had discovered Makélélé in Brest, he was sure he would become the new Emmanuel Petit.

At the beginning of the 1992–93 season, Claude Makélélé was already in the Nantes A-team, in the French first division. He played at Nantes for five seasons, winning the French Championship in 1995 and helped the club to the semifinal of the European Cup the following season. This earned him a move to Olympique de Marseille for whom he played for one season.

Celta Vigo

He was transferred to Celta Vigo where he spent two successful seasons at the Galician club. While playing alongside Aleksandr Mostovoi, Valery Karpin, Haim Revivo ,and Michel Salgado, Celta Vigo achieved historic victories such as 4-1 against Liverpool and 4-0 against Juventus in the UEFA Cup. It was during this time that he began to mould his game into that of a true 'holding midfielder' or 'anchor man'. In September 1999 in an interview with popular Spanish newspaper Marca, he was quoted as saying 'One day, I hope to play like Ajax's Aaron Mokoena'.

Real Madrid

In 2000, he was recruited by Real Madrid. His transfer was controversial because Celta did not want to sell Makélélé unless a substantial improvement on their offer was made. Makélélé refused to train until there was resolution of his contract. Finally, Celta was reluctantly forced to sell him for €14 million,[3] far less than their valuation of the player.

At Real, Makélélé substantially added to his medal tally, winning two Spanish La Liga championships, the UEFA Champions League, the Spanish Super Cup, the European Super Cup, and the Intercontinental Cup (now replaced by the FIFA World Club Championship). As an ever-present in Vicente del Bosque's Real Madrid side, Makélélé also established himself as one of the best holding midfielders in the world.

However, despite his value to the team, Makélélé was one of its most (relatively) under-paid members, earning a fraction of that paid to teammates like Zinédine Zidane, Luís Figo, Raúl, Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, Steve McManaman, and Guti. In the summer of 2003, feeling that his position at the club was insecure after the shock sacking of del Bosque and the arrival of David Beckham, and encouraged by teammates Zidane, Raúl, McManaman and Fernando Morientes, Makélélé decided to ask for an improved contract. The Real management flatly refused to consider his request [4]. Upset, Makélélé handed in a transfer request, whereupon he was signed by Chelsea. Club president Florentino Pérez infamously poured scorn on Makélélé's footballing abilities and proclaimed that Makélélé would not be missed:

We will not miss Makélélé. His technique is average, he lacks the speed and skill to take the ball past opponents, and ninety percent of his distribution either goes backwards or sideways. He wasn't a header of the ball and he rarely passed the ball more than three metres. Younger players will arrive who will cause Makélélé to be forgotten. [5]

His opinion differed from that of players like Zidane, who remarked the following after Makélélé was sold and Beckham was bought:[6]

Why put another layer of gold paint on the Bentley when you are losing the entire engine?

In his autobiography, published in 2006, McManaman described Makélélé as the most important and yet least appreciated midfielder at Real. Retired former Real Madrid player and captain Fernando Hierro also criticised Pérez for both Makélélé's departure and the manner of his departure, saying:

I think Claude has this kind of gift - he's been the best player in the team for years but people just don't notice him, don't notice what he does. But you ask anyone at Real Madrid during the years we were talking about and they will tell you he was the best player at Real. We all knew, the players all knew he was the most important. The loss of Makélélé was the beginning of the end for Los Galacticos… You can see that it was also the beginning of a new dawn for Chelsea. He was the base, the key and I think he is the same to Chelsea now. [7]

For the past several years since Makélélé's departure, Real Madrid have failed to progress past the quarter-finals of the Champions League.


Makélélé (right) with former Chelsea teammate Alex.

In the summer of 2003, he signed for Chelsea for £16.8 million, where then manager Claudio Ranieri proclaimed that Makélélé would be the "battery" of the team [8]. Chelsea finished second in the FA Premier League 2003-04 championship and were eliminated by AS Monaco in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League.

Following the sacking of Ranieri and his succession by José Mourinho, Makélélé was a key player in Chelsea's successful 2004–05 season, winning both the Premiership and the League Cup. His defensive qualities allowed the likes of Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Arjen Robben, Damien Duff, Eiður Guðjohnsen, and Didier Drogba to parade their attacking skills. Makélélé's importance was recognized by Mourinho, who declared him Chelsea's "Player of the Year."

To cap off the 2004–05 season for the Frenchman, he was allowed to take a penalty awarded to Chelsea in the game against Charlton Athletic on the day the Premiership trophy was due to be presented. The Charlton keeper, Stephan Andersen, saved it, but Makélélé scored on the rebound.[9] In September 2005, he was selected as a member of the World XI at the FIFPro awards. The team was chosen by a vote of professional footballers in 40 countries. He added to his sizeable medal haul the following season, winning both the FA Community Shield and the Premier League.

In March 2006, Fulham defeated Chelsea 1–0 in a Premiership game in which Fulham manager Chris Coleman's tactics centered on bypassing Makélélé on the wings when Fulham had possession and putting midfielders on Makélélé when Chelsea were in possession. With Makélélé struggling to function effectively, Chelsea lost the game. Coleman later explained that Makélélé was more than a mere defensive midfielder, but was actually Chelsea's deep-lying playmaker, and Chelsea's attacks were channeled through him. Thus, denying him possession was instrumental in unravelli. Mourinho was subsequently forced to counter this tactic by withdrawing Lampard and Michael Essien further back in midfield to relieve the pressure on Makélélé [10].

On 5 November 2006, in a league encounter with Tottenham Hotspur, Makélélé scored his second goal for the club, a difficult curling volley from the edge of the 18-yard box which sped past Paul Robinson into the left-hand side of the goal to cue a bench-clearing celebration.[citation needed] However, Tottenham sprang a comeback to beat Chelsea 2–1, the first defeat Chelsea had conceded to Tottenham in over a decade.[citation needed] However, this goal got him the best shot to goals percentage that year with one shot and one goal - 100%.[citation needed]

On 5 December 2006, in a League Cup game against Newcastle United, Makélélé wore the captain's armband in John Terry's absence and with Lampard rested. He was substituted at half-time for Lampard. Makélélé also wore the captain's armband the following season, when Terry, Lampard, and Michael Ballack were all unavailable. Makélélé was captain even when Terry and Lampard returned, for a crucial Champions League tie against Olympiacos, but Terry returned as captain the following weekend for the League Cup defeat against Tottenham. The 2007–08 season was a period of renaissance for the 35-year-old Makélélé, as he played in the majority of Chelsea's fixtures. Despite an ear infection that made him miss an early part of the season, he regained his place and forced Michael Essien into the right-back position, effectively pushing Juliano Belletti out of the team. Makélélé was instrumental in Chelsea's run to the 2008 UEFA Champions League Final Under the guidance of manager Avram Grant , but they were defeated by Manchester United. He was widely recognized as a pivotal figure in the Blues capturing two Premier League titles and three domestic cups since 2004.[citation needed]

In homage to Makélélé, many fans and pundits alike have dubbed the defensive midfield position as the "Makélélé Role."[1]

Paris Saint-Germain

On 18 July 2008, it was reported that Makélélé was about to take a medical the following day in Paris ahead of a proposed move back to French football. On 21 July, Chelsea announced they had released Makélélé on a free transfer, while Paris Saint-Germain confirmed that the player would join them and would be unveiled at a press conference that afternoon.[11][12] on 25 February 2010 he announced that he would retire at the end of the 2009/2010 football season.|url,19528,11820_5979981,00.html</ref>

International career

Makélélé has had a successful international career playing for France. By the end of 2004, he had gained 33 caps, and played for his country at the 1996 Olympic Games, the 2002 FIFA World Cup, and UEFA Euro 2004.

Makélélé decided to retire from international football in September 2004, in order to focus on club football with Chelsea, but eleven months later, in August 2005, he and compatriots Zinédine Zidane and Lilian Thuram were persuaded out of retirement to help France qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.

As a member of the France national football team competing at the 2006 World Cup, Makélélé's performances as a tireless midfield spoiler were invaluable to France's 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 the team conceded only three goals in seven games, a tally only bested by world champions Italy.

After the defeat to Italy on penalties in the World Cup Final, Makélélé initially commented that he was again going to retire from international football. However, he continued to play for France in their qualifiers for UEFA Euro 2008 and even the Euro 2008 finals. He again announced his retirement from international football on 17 June 2008, after France's 2–0 defeat to Italy, along with Thuram again.[13]

Personal life

In the spring of 2004, he began dating French model Noémie Lenoir. On 2 February 2005, Lenoir gave birth to a boy, Kelyan. The couple split in early 2009.[14] Despite widespread reports Lenoir was married to Makélélé, she wrote a blog in 2009 clarifying their former relationship, saying: 'I’m not and have never been married. I do have a son. I have a wonderful baby’s father and have a great relationship with him, however I’ve been single for some time now.' [15] He also has two other sons from a previous relationship.[citation needed]


FC Nantes
Real Madrid C.F.
Chelsea F.C.


  1. ^ a b Wallace, Sam (24 February 2007). "Doing a Makelele - so good they named it after him". The Independent. Retrieved 4 December 2008. 
  2. ^ Mtembezi, Chumvi (2002). "Lingala Stars". Retrieved 2008-11-30. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Unhappy Makélélé continues pay rise rebellion". China Daily. 2003-08-15. Retrieved 2007-03-30. 
  5. ^ "Perez has parting shot at Makélélé". The Guardian. 2003-09-11.,1563,1039493,00.html. Retrieved 2007-03-30. 
  6. ^ "Chelsea boss Scolari faces huge challenge to fill Makelele's boots ahead of his first game in charge". Daily Mail. 2008-07-23. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  7. ^ "Hierro's hunger drives Bolton to brink of history". Fernando 2005-04-30. Retrieved 2007-03-30. 
  8. ^ "Chelsea - The Football - Claude Makélélé".,,10268~24545,00.html. Retrieved 2007-03-30. 
  9. ^ "Chelsea 1-0 Charlton". BBC. 7 May 2005. Retrieved 16 August 2009. 
  10. ^ "Stop Makélélé, Stop Chelsea - Coleman". Sporting Life. Retrieved 2007-03-30. 
  11. ^ "Makélélé leaves Chelsea for PSG". BBC Sport. 2008-07-21. Retrieved 2008-07-21. 
  12. ^ "Makélélé leaves Chelsea to link up with PSG". FourFourTwo. Retrieved 2008-07-21. 
  13. ^ "France duo call it quits". Sky Sports. 2008-06-18.,23063,11966_3705170,00.html. Retrieved 2007-06-18. 
  14. ^ "Claude Makelele enjoys first holiday with new WAG after splitting from M&S lingerie model Noemie Lenoir". Daily Mail. 19th June 2009. 
  15. ^

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