Claude Makélélé

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"Makelele" redirects here. For the Brazilian footballer, see Leandro dos Santos de Jesus.
Claude Makélélé
Claude Makelele.jpg
Makélélé in 2012
Personal information
Full name Claude Makelele Sinda[1]
Date of birth (1973-02-18) 18 February 1973 (age 42)
Place of birth Kinshasa, Zaire
Height 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)
Playing position Defensive midfielder
Youth career
1989–1990 US Melun
1990–1991 Stade Brestois
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1991–1997 Nantes 169 (9)
1997–1998 Marseille 32 (2)
1998–2000 Celta Vigo 70 (3)
2000–2003 Real Madrid 94 (0)
2003–2008 Chelsea 144 (2)
2008–2011 Paris Saint-Germain 98 (1)
Total 607 (17)
National team
1995–1996 France U21 11 (1)
1995–2008 France 71 (0)
Teams managed
2011–2013 Paris Saint-Germain (assistant)
2014 Bastia

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

† Appearances (goals)

Claude Makélélé Sinda (French pronunciation: ​[klod makelele]; born 18 February 1973) is a retired French footballer and current manager.

In his playing career, which ended at Paris Saint-Germain, Makélélé also played for Nantes, Olympique de Marseille, Celta Vigo, Real Madrid and Chelsea. He won league titles in France, Spain and England. Makélélé was a French international for 13 years, and part of the team which reached the final of the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

Makélélé has been credited with redefining the defensive midfield role in English football, especially during the 2004–05 FA Premier League season when Chelsea won the title with 95 points. In homage to Makélélé, many fans and pundits alike have dubbed the defensive midfield position as the "Makélélé Role."[2][3]

Club career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Makélelé was born in Kinshasa, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). "Makelele" means "noises" in Lingala,[4] one of the languages spoken in the country.

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 Makélelé, was also a football player. He represented the Congo DR, and ended his career in the Belgian First Division.

At age 15 Makélélé signed for U.S. Melun in Melun, a city near Savigny-le-Temple. He played with Lillian Thuram there, and left at the age of 16, when he joined the training centre of Brest-Armorique in Brittany. According to him,[citation needed] it was not 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. Makélelé 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, Makélelé 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 semi-final of the Champions League the following season. This earned him a move to Olympique de Marseille for whom he played for one season.

Celta Vigo[edit]

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'.

Real Madrid[edit]

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. Makélelé refused to train until there was resolution of his contract. Finally, Celta were reluctantly forced to sell him for €14 million, far less than their valuation of the player.

At Real, Makélelé 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, Makélelé also established himself as one of the best holding midfielders in the world.

However, despite his value to the team, Makélelé 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, Makélelé decided to ask for an improved contract. The Real management flatly refused to consider his request.[5] Upset, Makélelé handed in a transfer request, whereupon he was signed by Chelsea. Club president Florentino Pérez infamously poured scorn on Makélelé's footballing abilities and proclaimed that Makélelé would not be missed:

His opinion differed from that of players like Zidane, who remarked the following after Makélelé was sold and Beckham was bought:[7]

In his autobiography, published in 2006, McManaman described Makélelé 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:


Makélelé in 2008.
Makélelé (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 Makélelé would be the "battery" of the team.[9]


Chelsea finished second in the FA Premier League 2003-04 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, Makélelé 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. Makélelé'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 Makélelé scored on the rebound.[10] 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 Makélelé on the wings when Fulham had possession and putting midfielders on Makélelé when Chelsea were in possession. With Makélelé struggling to function effectively, Chelsea lost the game. Coleman later explained that Makélelé 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 unravelling Chelsea. Mourinho was subsequently forced to counter this tactic by withdrawing Lampard and Michael Essien further back in midfield to relieve the pressure on Makélelé.[11]


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.[12] Although Tottenham sprang a comeback to beat Chelsea 2–1, this goal got him the best shot to goals percentage that year with one shot and one goal – 100%.

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 Makélelé, 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 in a penalty-shootout, after it stayed 1-1 in regular time as well as after extra-time.

Paris Saint-Germain[edit]

Makélélé with Paris Saint-Germain in 2010.

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.[13][14]

On 25 February 2010 he announced that he would retire at the end of the season, but in June, he retracted his statement and re-signed with Paris Saint-Germain for an additional season.[15] He later retired at the end of the 2010-11 season. The next season he was appointed the assistant manager alongside Carlo Ancelotti who had joined PSG from Makelele's previous club, Chelsea.

International career[edit]

Makélélé was first capped for France in a match against Norway in July 1995,[16] and went on to represent his country at the 1996 Olympic Games.

Makélélé was not selected for France's 1998 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2000 successes, making his tournament debut at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, where he started the team's final Group A match against Denmark. At UEFA Euro 2004, Makélélé was a first choice player in midfield, starting in three of France's four matches.

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 was called up to the squad by French national team manager Raymond Domenech for Euro qualification games for UEFA Euro 2008 against Georgia and Italy. On being asked about Makélélé being called up to his national squad despite being retired during an interview on Sky Sports, Chelsea manager José Mourinho accused France national coach Raymond Domenech of treating Makélélé like a slave and refusing to honor his retirement. Mourinho said of Domenech "has been very objective - very objective - and said you have to play Georgia and you have to play Italy. Makelele wants to retire but the national coach won't allow him to retire."[17] FIFA confirmed that any club that refuses to release a player for national team duty is barred from using the player for two matches, a rule which is intended to prevent discourage clubs from pretending that the player is injured.[citation needed] On the same evening as the Mourinho interview, Makélélé told French TV station, TPS Star ""Even if my club doesn't agree, I will humbly honor the call".[18]

Makélélé went onto continue playing with the French national team through the qualifications and then the finals for the UEFA Euro 2008 tournament, where France exited in the group stage after finishing bottom of their group. He and Thuram announced their retirement from international football on 17 June 2008, after France's 2–0 defeat to Italy.[19]

Coaching career[edit]

Makélélé in 2013, in his coaching role at Paris Saint-Germain

Makélélé became head coach of Bastia on 24 May 2014. However, after less than six months in charge, he was sacked on 3 November 2014 following a 1–0 defeat to Guingamp on 1 November 2014, due to his inability to make an impact on the club as coach.[20]

Personal life[edit]

In the spring of 2004, he began dating French model Noémie Lenoir. Lenoir gave birth to a boy, Kelyan (born 24 January 2005). The couple split in early 2009. Despite widespread reports that 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.'[21] In May 2010, Lenoir attempted to commit suicide at Makélélé's Paris home by ingesting a lethal amount of drugs and alcohol. Reports after the suicide attempt implied that it was related to Makélélé finally calling it quits with Lenoir, which he vehemently denies. Lenoir has had a long battle with substance abuse and later checked into rehab.[22] Claude Makélélé has a daughter, Shana (born 10 December 2002), from a previous relationship and a newborn son (born 31 December 2010) with his fiancée.

Career statistics[edit]


Club Season League Cup League Cup Supercup Europe Uefa Supercup Intercontinental Cup Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Nantes 1992-93 34 1 6 0 40 1
1993-94 30 0 4 1 2 0 36 1
1994-95 36 3 2 0 1 1 8 1 47 5
1995-96 33 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 9 0 45 0
1996-97 36 5 0 0 1 0 0 0 37 5
Total 169 9 13 1 3 1 1 0 19 1 205 12
Marseille 1997-98 32 2 2 0 2 1 36 3
Total 32 2 2 0 2 1 36 3
Celta Vigo 1998-99 36 2 0 0 7 0 44 2
1999-00 34 1 0 0 9 3 43 4
Total 70 3 0 0 16 3 86 6
Real Madrid 2000-01 33 0 0 0 14 1 1 0 1 0 49 1
2001-02 32 0 1 0 2 0 13 0 48 0
2002-03 29 0 0 0 11 0 1 0 1 0 42 0
2003-04 1 0 1 0
Total 94 0 1 0 3 0 38 1 2 0 2 0 140 1
Chelsea 2003-04 30 0 3 0 2 0 11 0 46 0
2004-05 36 1 0 0 4 0 10 0 50 1
2005-06 31 0 3 0 0 0 1 0 6 0 41 0
2006-07 29 1 2 0 6 0 0 0 9 0 46 1
2007-08 18 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 13 0 34 0
Total 144 2 9 0 14 0 1 0 49 0 217 2
Paris Saint-Germain
2008-09 34 0 1 0 0 0 5 0 40 0
2009-10 31 1 5 0 0 0 36 1
2010-11 33 0 3 0 2 0 1 0 3 0 42 0
Total 98 1 9 0 2 0 1 0 8 0 118 1
Career totals 607 17 34 1 21 2 6 0 130 5 2 0 2 0 802 25

Coaching record[edit]

As of 1 November 2014
Team From To Record
G W D L GF GA GD Win % Ref.
Bastia 24 May 2014[20] 3 November 2014 13 3 4 6 12 18 −6 23.08

National team[edit]

France national team
Year Apps Goals
1995 1 0
1996 0 0
1997 1 0
1998 1 0
1999 0 0
2000 3 0
2001 6 0
2002 9 0
2003 6 0
2004 8 0
2005 5 0
2006 14 0
2007 11 0
2008 6 0
Total 71 0




Real Madrid
Paris-Saint Germain






Paris-Saint Germain (assistant)


  1. ^ "Makelele: Claude Makelele Sinda". BDFutbol. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  2. ^ Wallace, Sam (24 February 2007). "Doing a Makelele – so good they named it after him". The Independent (UK). Retrieved 4 December 2008. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Mtembezi, Chumvi (2002). "Swahili Stars". Archived from the original on 18 July 2008. Retrieved 30 November 2008. 
  5. ^ "Unhappy Makélelé continues pay rise rebellion". China Daily. 15 August 2003. Retrieved 30 March 2007. 
  6. ^ Stevens, Richard (11 September 2003). "Perez has parting shot at Makélelé". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 30 March 2007. 
  7. ^ "Chelsea boss Scolari faces huge challenge to fill Makelele's boots ahead of his first game in charge". Daily Mail (UK). 23 July 2008. Retrieved 11 November 2009. 
  8. ^ "Hierro's hunger drives Bolton to brink of history". Fernando 30 April 2005. Retrieved 30 March 2007. 
  9. ^ Edworthy, Sarah (13 September 2003). "Makelele the battery in Chelsea Rolex". The Telegraph. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  10. ^ "Chelsea 1–0 Charlton". BBC. 7 May 2005. Retrieved 16 August 2009. 
  11. ^ Barlow, Matt. "Stop Makélelé, Stop Chelsea – Coleman". Sporting Life. Retrieved 30 March 2007. 
  12. ^ "Tottenham 2–1 Chelsea". ESPNsoccernet (ESPN). 5 November 2006. Retrieved 17 July 2010. 
  13. ^ "Makélélé leaves Chelsea for PSG". BBC Sport. 21 July 2008. Retrieved 21 July 2008. 
  14. ^ "Makélélé leaves Chelsea to link up with PSG". FourFourTwo. Retrieved 21 July 2008. 
  15. ^ "Makelele to hang up boots". Sky Sports. 
  16. ^ "Finally Makelele". The Daily Star. 2 September 2003. Retrieved 17 August 2014. 
  17. ^ "Makelele is free to make his choice". New York Times. 29 August 2006. Retrieved 20 June 2013. 
  18. ^ "Makelele is free to make his choice". New York Times. 29 August 2006. Retrieved 20 June 2013. 
  19. ^ "France duo call it quits". Sky Sports. 18 June 2008. Retrieved 18 June 2007. 
  20. ^ a b "Claude Makelele leaves Paris St-Germain post to coach Bastia". BBC Sports. 24 May 2014. Retrieved 24 May 2014. 
  21. ^ "M&S lingerie model Noemie Lenoir falls for rap mogul Russell Simmons after love split". Daily Mail (London). 24 June 2009. 
  22. ^ Hodge, Katie; Clarke, Josie (13 May 2010). "M&S model Noemie Lenoir recovers after 'suicide bid'". London: 

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Paris Saint-Germain captain
Succeeded by
Mamadou Sakho