Monday, February 18, 2013

18 February 1973 - The Role Came A Little Bit Later

On 18 February 1973, Claude Makélélé, who redefined the modern defensive midfielder position, was born in Kinshasa, Zaire.

He moved to France when he was four and spent the first several years of his career there, first with Stade Brestois (1990-91), then with Nantes (1991-97) and later Marseille (1997-98). In 1998, he left for Spain, playing two seasons for Celta de Vigo and three for Real Madrid.

At Madrid, he was an integral member of the Galacticos side assembled by club president Florentino Pérez, including Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Ronaldo, and Roberto Carlos. Although not regarded as highly (or paid as much) as some of the others, Makélélé drove the side by operating less like a traditional defensive midfielder and more like a deep-lying playmaker.

When he left for Chelsea in 2003, a bitter Pérez tried to minimize the loss, downplaying Makélélé's contribution to the team. But after winning two league titles (and the Champions League) with him, Real Madrid did not win La Liga again until 2007.

Makélélé, meanwhile, flourished at Chelsea, winning two league titles and one FA Cup before moving back to France in 2008, joining Paris Saint-Germain. He ended his career there, retiring in 2011, and currently serves the club as an assistant coach.

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