The word football legend is used rather loosely in the modern footballing world, but one player who justifies that tag is former Chelsea and Real Madrid midfielder, Claude Makelele.
Only a player with supreme abilities has a position named after him, and the Frenchman is one such player, with 'The Makelele role' – a role where a midfielder shields the back four and mops up balls between midfield and defence.
In a recent interview, the Frenchman spoke about his views on Pele and his former Real Madrid teammates, Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo.
The defensive midfielder who played in many star-studded leagues with elite players considered Pele as his idol while growing up.
He said, "My dad used to play football and he had a lot of videos of Pelé; I used to love watching what he could do. I think when I was young I saw him as an example for me to follow."
The 43-year-old also said that the Brazilian duo of Marzinho and Valdo were the toughest players that he ever played against.
On Zidane and Ronaldo
He also gushed about his former teammates at Real Madrid, Zidane and the Brazilian Ronaldo, with whom he won the Champions League in 2000-01. 'Maka' as he is fondly called said this about the duo, "You can't compare the two! They play different positions, they had different leadership qualities.”
He continued, "I trained a lot with both Zidane and Ronaldo, and sometimes I'd stay back after training with Zidane to practise one-on-ones. I know why he wanted to do this, because he wanted to work on his qualities as a dribbler, his movement, because he'd spend every game getting kicked by his markers and he wanted to train like that too.”
“But you just can't compare him and Ronaldo: they're both geniuses and both changed world football, but in different ways."
On asked about the player in the current scene who is closest to his playing style, Makelele stated that he has high hopes for Chelsea's N'Golo Kante and he believes the Frenchman has what it takes to emulate him perfectly.
On his favourite team-mate
Makelele has played with a host of world class players during his career but has chosen a rather surprising player as his favourite player, "I'm going to say Iván Helguera who played in midfield with me at Madrid. We had a great chemistry; we'd train together, we'd eat together.”
“He knew where I'd move on the pitch, I'd know when he was going to push up and try and score. We didn't even need to talk, just a look was enough to know what the other was going to do. "