He was one of top defensive midfielders in the world. During his playing career, which ended at Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), Claude Makélélé Sinda also played for Nantes, Marseille, Celta de Vigo, Real Madrid and Chelsea. He won league titles in France, Spain and England, as well as the 2001-02 UEFA Champions League (UCL) during his time with Real Madrid. Makélélé was also part of the France National Team which reached the final of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. He is now assistant coach at Premier League club, Swansea City, since January 2017. Heineken invited Makélélé as a guest for the UCL final match which was screened at Hilton Addis Hotel. The French star also visited young players at the Ethiopian Youth Football Academy. Dawit Tolesa of The Reporter attended Makélélé’s press conference and compiled this Q&A. Excerpts:
You have played for Chelsea, Real Madrid and PSG. What is the secret for your success?
Claude Makélélé: I started playing when I was young. I had the opportunity to play and my father helped me a lot and he taught me how to put extra efforts. All careers need personal effort for you to succeed. So, my father helped me from the beginning.
How do you describe the significance of football academies?
Regarding football academies, everything is all about hard work. I think Ethiopian football academies are going on the right track. For instance, Ethiopia is commonly known of athletics. Why? It is because of the hard work and sacrifices and this rewarded them international recognition. The world talks a lot about Ethiopian athletes. You need to apply the same thing to football; you need to help the kids by providing better education and facilities at schools. During my visit at the Ethiopian Youth Academy, I saw many young girls and boys who are overcoming challenges. Football gives a lot of passion and a can-do mentality. I think it is the best time to start football at early ages in academies, which at the end equips you with essential skills and experience.
You have been playing with so many renowned players. Who is your best teammate and what are the biggest achievements in your footballing career and regrets if there is any?
First of all I am so happy with my accomplishment in football. There are no regrets. I love the profession on top of the money I earn and the lifestyle it brought me. I believe that I have left my mark in football history. Now I need to give all that I have back to the people. I have finished my diploma to be a qualified manager. I have lots of mates in my footballing career and but if you ask me to name one player, it will be Zinedine Zidane. We played at Real Madrid and our national team together.
During your time there were Galactico players like Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, Luis Figo, David Beckham and others. Do you consider yourself as a Galactico?
In my mind it is not about Galactico. The fans make you feel that you are a Galatico. It’s all about what you demonstrate on the pitch. I love football and I give everything that I have alongside with my friends. But talking about Galactico, for me, doesn’t make sense. All Galacticos will not win Ballon d’Or. Personally, I can only name three players that are Galactiocos and these are, Zidane, Ronaldo and Figo.
Read more at: The Reporter