Football News

Chelsea legend Michael Essien joins Azerbaijani side Sabail FK

By Danny Lavelle

Published: 13:27, 17 March 2019

Chelsea legend Michael Essien has joined the eighth club of his career, recently completing his signing for Azerbaijani side Sabail FK.

Essien, 36, has not kicked a ball professionally for 12 months having left Indonesian side Persib Bandun in March 2018 and had been performing some ambassadorial duties at Chelsea.

Essien makes his latest career more: Five things to know…

  1. Essien began his career in 2000 with French side Bastia, making 76 appearances before heading to Lyon.
  2. After winning two Ligue 1 titles with Lyon he headed to Chelsea.
  3. Essien was a key part of the Blues’ earlier success under Roman Abramovich’s ownership.
  4. He left the club in 2014 after spending nine years in west London, helping the Blues win two Premier League titles and a Champions League.
  5. And, following spells in Spain, Italy, Greece and Indonesia, the Ghanaian was made the move to Azerbaijan.

The Ghana international has had a varied career and has played for seven different clubs, most notably with Chelsea, AC Milan and Real Madrid.

Essien signed a deal with his newest club until May 2020 and will also join the club’s Under-19s coaching staff with a view to earning his coaching badges.

The 36-year-old, who won the Champions League, two Premier League titles and four FA Cups in nine years with Chelsea, has expressed his delight at signing for Sabail.

“I was here three weeks ago. Had a good chat with the club and they told me about the project. I thought about it, liked it and here we are,” Essien told the BBC after signing.

“It’s a different thing to what I have seen before. Looks interesting and exciting, so happy to be here.”

Essien was once regarded as one of the best midfielders in the Premier League during his peak at Chelsea, but his career slowed down following serious injury problems.

The midfielder also represented Ghana twice at the World Cup during a glittering career, earning 58 caps before retiring after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Subscribe to Squawka’s Youtube channel here.

Essien’s special relationship with Mourinho

For a long time the Ghana midfielder kept Chelsea ticking with his boundless creative energy, a willingness to put the boot in when necessary and an unyielding positivity that would lift his team mates. Even for opposing fans, it was difficult to not like Essien.

These are just some of the reasons that he was so highly regarded by Jose Mourinho who described him as a son last May.

“He is more than a player to me he is my son,” Mourinho told Talksport.

“He made me fall in love with Ghana, with Accra where he lived, because then I had a better understanding of his mentality.

“I understand why as a player he was ready for everything, he was ready to die for the fellow players, for the club, for the manager, why he was ready to play like he did for me at Real Madrid with a knee that was not a knee anymore.

“It was a destroyed knee but with that personality, that desire and that mentality he suffered, always he suffered, but always with a smile. Michael smiles a lot.”