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Marcel Desailly (born September 7 1968 in Accra, Ghanamarker as Odenke Abbey) is a former Frenchmarker footballer and star of the France national football team squad, with whom he won the 1998 FIFA World Cup and Euro 2000. He also enjoyed a distinguished career at club level with several major European clubs.

Club career

Born as Odenke Abbey to Ghanaian parents, Marcel had his name changed when his mother married the head of the French Consulate in Accramarker who adopted all the children (the former professional footballer Seth Adonkor, seven years his elder, was a half-brother of his). He arrived in France as a four-year-old and, following Adonkor's lead, began his career at FC Nantes, turning professional in 1986, two years after his half-brother had died in a car accident. In 1992, he moved to Olympique de Marseille, and won the UEFA Champions League the following year. In 1994, while a member of A.C. Milan, he again won the Cup (scoring in the final himself), being the first player to win the Cup in consecutive seasons with different clubs. During his time in Milan he won two Italian league titles, in 1994 and 1996. Although he prefers to be a defender, he also played midfield for some time.

Desailly then moved to the Englishmarker club Chelsea in a ¬£4.6m transfer, where he played centre-back until the end of the 2003‚Äď04 season. It was at Chelsea that Desailly formed a formidable partnership with Frank Leboeuf. After Euro 2004, he retired from international football as the all-time leader in appearances for France (116). Desailly's record has since been surpassed by fellow defender Lilian Thuram.

Desailly was snapped up by Qatarimarker outfit Al-Gharafa in 2004. He was appointed as the club captain and under the French coach Bruno Metsu they won the Qatar League in 2005. He then joined Qatar S.C., leading them to second place in the league before retiring from professional football.

Desailly is considered one of the most accomplished players of the game and one of the best players of the past two decades, having won virtually every major team award. He is currently a Unicef ambassador to Ghana and is being mentioned as a possible candidate for the coaching position of Ghana's national team.

International career

Desailly made his international debut in 1993, but was not established as a first choice defender until 1996. He was an important part of the French team which won the 1998 FIFA World Cup, albeit being sent off in the final. Like other team members, he was made Chevalier (Knight) of the Légion d'honneur in 1998. Two years later success continued, as France won Euro 2000. After the tournament, Desailly was made captain of the national team, following the retirement of Didier Deschamps. In 2001, he led France to victory in the Confederations Cup.

In April 2003, Desailly surpassed the record for the number of appearances for the French team, a number which eventually reached 116 when he announced his retirement from international football following Euro 2004. However, that record was broken during the 2006 World Cup by Lilian Thuram.

BBC career

Desailly has become a pundit for the BBC. His style has won him an army of British fans, due to his tendency to speak with his heart on his sleeve. He can be found predominantly giving his opinion from the touchline at both half time and full time as opposed to residing in the studio with Alan Hansen, Alan Shearer and Martin O'Neill.

Club Playing Honours

Olympique de Marseille
Associazione Calcio Milan
Chelsea F.C.
Al Gharafa
France national football team

Career statistics

Post-playing career

Desailly's autobiography, Capitaine, was published in France by Stock in 2002. He worked for BBC Television in the United Kingdommarker during the 2006 FIFA World Cup, as one of their Match of the Day analysts.He has developed a small but devout fanbase, entertained by his inability to contribute without shouting at the top of his voice, at great length, often about trivial issues. He has also recently become a spokesperson for a sports betting website.

He is currently working as a BBC journalist having covered the 2008 African Cup of Nationsand Euro 2008. He is also a regular commentator for French television channel Canal Plus.

Licensed Merchandise

A mobile video gameentitled Marcel Desailly Pro Soccer, developed by Gameloftwas released for mobile phones in 2003.


Desailly is a member of the Ga ethnic group. He is married to Virginie and has a daughter, Victoria, and three sons.


Ron Atkinson's media work came to an abrupt halt on 21 April 2004, when he resigned from ITV after he broadcast a racist remark live on air about the black Chelsea F.C. player Marcel Desailly: believing the microphone to be switched off, he said, "...he [Desailly] is what is known in some schools as a lazy thick nigger"


  1. Desailly plans to join Lazio next summer
  2. "Marcel Desailly Pro Soccer" Wireless., April 26, 2004. Retrieved October 7, 2008.

External links

1986-87 Nantes Division 1 13 0 - 2 0 15 0
1987-88 11 0 - - 11 0
1988-89 36 1 - - 36 1
1989-90 36 1 - - 36 1
1990-91 34 1 - - 34 1
1991-92 32 2 - - 32 2
1992-93 Olympique Marseille Division 1 31 1 - 10 1 41 2
1993-94 16 0 7 0 - 23 0

1993-94 Milan Serie A 21 1 7 0 6 2 34 3
1994-95 22 1 7 0 10 0 39 1
1995-96 32 2 14 1 7 0 53 3
1996-97 29 1 7 0 5 0 41 1
1997-98 32 0 14 1 - 46 1

1998-99 Chelsea Premier League 30 0 7 0 7 1 44 1
1999-00 22 1 16 0 16 0 54 1
2000-01 34 2 13 1 1 0 48 3
2001-02 24 1 12 0 2 0 38 1
2002-03 31 2 11 0 1 0 43 2
2003-04 15 0 8 0 8 0 31 0

2004-05 Al-Gharafa 28 15
2005-06 Qatar 7 0

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