Michael Emenalo recounts his ordeal during his reign as Chelsea director of football

Michael Emenalo recounts his ordeal during his reign as Chelsea director of football

- Michael Emenalo was Chelsea's director of football between 2011 and 2017

- The Blues claim their first European glory during that period among several other titles

- The former Nigerian defender has now lifted the lid on how he was racially abused after rising to a key position at Stamford Bridge

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Former Chelsea director of football Michael Emenalo has recounted how he was racially abused during his 12 years reign at Stamford Bridge.

The 55-year-old was outrightly underrated even by journalists when he took the office - with some of them saying that he must have killed somebody for the owner in order for him to be rewarded this office.

Emenalo represented Nigeria at the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the United States and one year later, he hung up his international boots.

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He called time on football professionally 20 years ago after spending two years with Israeli topflight side Maccabi Tel Aviv.

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The former defender joined the Blues backroom staff in 2007. He became the club's chief scout three years later. And in 2011, he was appointed Chelsea's director of football.

Michael Emenalo recounts his ordeal during his reign as Chelsea director of football
Michael Emenalo: One of the fans flying an 'Emenalo Out' banner at the stands. Photo Credit: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Emenalo said while baring his mind on his experience: “Absolutely. It eats at you. When I was appointed [as technical director] some journalists didn’t think I spoke English.

"They said I had never played the game. Some people said: ‘Why did this Russian owner, who knows thousands and thousands of people, confide in him?

"He’s African so he must have killed somebody for the owner.’ No one stopped to think it could possibly be because of my intellect or experience.”

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Emenalo added that the Blues owner Roman Abramovich sees beyond skin colour regardless of the cry of the racists.

The Nigerian said his former employer was impressed with his achievements in his first few months on the job, as he revamped the club’s academy and recruiting process.

My argument was that all big clubs had great academies. Ajax, Barcelona, Real Madrid. But creating a new identity at Chelsea, rooted in the academy, while his ambition is to win trophies, was difficult.

At first everybody said: ‘Nobody’s come from the academy.’ But a kid who comes to the academy at seven won’t be ready to challenge Frank Lampard when he’s 19.

"It became key to look at that space between 19 and 22 where we can prepare him to be a Chelsea player. We did that with De Bruyne.” he said of his vision for Chelsea. “The narrative has to change."

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During his reign, Chelsea won 3 Premier League titles, 1 UEFA Champions League, 1 UEFA Europa League, and many young talents were discovered through the academy.

Legit.ng earlier reported that Chelsea will battle London rivals Arsenal in the final of this year's FA Cup championship following their 3-1 victory over Manchester United.

A goal each from Olivier Giroud, Mason Mount, and Anthony Rudiger ended the Red Devils' quest of advancing to the last stage of the competition.

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