Recapping on a series of events regarding his football career in an interview with South African sports journalist Carol Tshabalala on Instagram, Michael Essien opened up on how he mysteriously joined Real Madrid, the Messi/Ronaldo debate and his toughest opponent. Michael Essien was quoted by Ghanasoccernet.com.
• How he mysteriously joined Real Madrid
“I was with Chelsea in Monaco for the Super Cup match and a strange number called me but I didn’t want to answer it but my cousin who was in the room with me that day told me to pick it up. The number kept calling so I picked and as soon as I said hello and another hello came from the other end and I realised who was on the phone so I told my cousin it’s Jose Mourinho.”
“We started talking and he said I heard you’re on way to Arsenal but I told him it’s not true. I had not heard anything from Arsenal. Then he said don’t go to Arsenal, come to me and I asked him where, and he said Real Madrid so I told him I’m ready.”
“It was the last day of the transfer and he said okay give me your agent’s number. I told him I’m ever ready even if it means I have to leave in the midst of the Super Cup game and he said Lassana Diarra was supposed to move to Russia so if he accepts to go then they will process my transfer and I told him okay, I’m waiting, just chilling in my room. He said give me a couple hours I’ll call back and I said cool.
“My agent called after some few hours and said what happened and I told him I spoke to Jose about moving to Madrid and said he gave Jose my number. He told me to relax because Madrid will come and I just said okay.”
“Lassana accepted to move to Russia so then we had to change our plans because we were about to leave the hotel to the stadium to play Atletico Madrid. Real Madrid were doing their with my agent and I was in the bus as we were about to leave to the stadium. It was even going and my agent called me and said where are you, and I told him we’re on our way to the stadium. He said comeback to the hotel I’m coming there. He said he had to send some fax to some people so I had to shout at the bus driver to stop like some mad man. All my teammates were looking at me like Michael what’s going on. I told them I needed to get off the bus and I’ll see you guys later.”
“So anyway the bus stopped and I went back to the hotel to wait for my agent. My agent came and sent the fax and thankfully everything got finalized on time. I told him I have to go to the stadium because at least I had to pick my boots so we got to the stadium but then they had finished the match. I joined my teammates on the pitch but some of them had heard the news that I was going to Madrid. Some of them also asked what was going on so obviously I had to tell them. I explained to them that this deal came up and I had to return to the hotel to finish the paperwork. So in coming back to pick my boots I had to tell them goodbye.”
“After the ceremony we went back to the dressing room where I properly wished them goodbye. I just took my shin pad and boots and that’s it. I said bye to everyone including Abramovic [Roman] and he wished me good luck and then I went back to the hotel. The next day I was on a plane to Madrid.”
“I went to Madrid with just my boots, shin pads, one jeans and one shirt and my Chelsea tracksuit. I got to the airport Jose was there waiting for me. He greeted me and I went to the hospital to undergo my medical and the next day I started training.”
• Essien on who’s better between Messi and Ronaldo
“I won’t pick one and leave the other because they’re both top players. They’re both exceptional in whatever they’re doing.”
“It’s hard to pick one because I’ve played with Ronaldo and played against Messi and I can tell you they are both excellent players. It’s hard to pick to be honest because they both possess different characteristics.”
• Essien picks his toughest opponent
“It’s between Steven Gerard and Paul Scholes. Those two players were quite tough to play against. They were not only good on the ball but they could tackle really hard. They were really tough but the Premier League was much more tough compared to now.”
“Every team you come up against was difficult so you have to try to be tougher.”
Michael Essien currently plays for Azerbaijan side Sabail.