The former French defensive midfielder Claude Makelele turned 49 on 18th February. Regarded as one of the greatest players in his position, Makélélé has been credited with redefining the defensive midfield role in English football, especially during the 2004–05 English Premier League season, where he played a crucial role in helping Chelsea win the title with 95 points. In homage, the defensive midfield position is sometimes colloquially known as the ‘Makelele Role’.
What is the Makelele Role?
The ‘Makelele Role‘ is an unimaginative term used to describe Claude Makelele’s position on a football pitch. With terms such as holding player, defensive midfielder, stopper and anchorman deemed redundant, the Makelele role has become one of the most talked-about positions of modern-day football. The Makelele Role became shorthand for a battling defensive-minded midfielder who was tasked with breaking up play before distributing the ball in a simple fashion.
Who was Claude Makelele?
Claude Makelele is currently a youth coach and technical mentor at Chelsea, having formerly been the head coach of Belgian First Division A club Eupen.
In his playing career, which ended at Paris Saint-Germain, Makelele also played for Nantes, Marseille, Celta Vigo, Real Madrid and Chelsea. He won league titles in France, Spain and England, and the 2001–02 UEFA Champions League during his time with Real Madrid.
Makelele was a French international for 13 years and was part of the France national team, which reached the 2006 FIFA World Cup final. He also represented his nation at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, two UEFA European Championships and the 1996 Summer Olympics.
Makelele was the undisputed backbone of a Real Madrid side that won seven titles in three years, including La Liga twice and the Champions League once. He moved to Real Madrid in 2000 from Celta Vigo.
As an ever-present in Vicente del Bosque’s Real Madrid side, Makelele also established himself as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world.
In the summer of 2003, Makélélé signed for Chelsea for 16.8 million pounds, where then-manager Claudio Ranieri proclaimed that Makélélé would be the battery of the team.
Following the sacking of Ranieri in 2004 and his succession by Jose Mourinho, Makelele was a key player in Chelsea’s victorious 2004–05 season, winning both the FA Premier League and the League Cup. His defensive qualities allowed the likes of Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Arjen Robben, Damien Duff, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Didier Drogba to parade their attacking skills. Makelele’s importance was recognised by Mourinho, who declared him Chelsea’s ‘Player of the Year.’
He moved to Paris Saint Germain in 2008 and retired from football at the end of the 2009-10 season.