Former Chelsea Technical Director, Michael Emenalo has said growing up in Nigeria helped him during his time at the London club from 2007-2019.
Michael Emenalo joined Chelsea as the chief opposition scout in 2007, was made an assistant first-team coach and in 2011 he was appointed as the club’s Technical Director.
The 55-year-old Nigeria told The Guardian of how he was validated by Chelsea owner, Roman Abrahamovic within two and half months of his job as an opposition scout.
“Mr Abramovich validated me after two and a half months,” Emenalo says. “I didn’t apply for any of my roles. I came in as head of opposition scout, to help Avram Grant, and met Roman a few times. Apparently what I said made sense to the owner.
“After we lost the 2008 Champions League final Avram was let go. I told Avram I will go with him. Avram said: ‘No. He likes you. He believes in you.’ When I talked to the owner my only request was that I should be relevant. The interpreter smiled when Roman said: ‘Tell him he will be very relevant.
“When I became technical director Bruce Buck [Chelsea’s chairman] organised for me to meet numerous journalists at a roundtable [interview]. The club knows my value. They said: ‘Now is the time for you to become a more visible presence.’ So we had this 90-minute conversation and afterwards the journalists said: ‘Wow. We didn’t know all that.’ It’s a back-handed compliment. I came from Africa so how could I know about football? But my success at Chelsea, especially with the academy, comes from my experience in Nigeria.”
As a young player at one of the most famous clubs in Nigeria, Rangers International, he stood up to the governor of the Eastern region and the minister of sport. When they lambasted the team, Emenalo was the only one who detailed the reasons for their poor run. He changed the narrative because, as he says: “When you are on the side of truth you feel empowered.”
During Michael Emenalo reign as Chelsea’s Technical Director, the club won the Champions League, the Europa Cup, Fa Cup, League Cup and two Premier League titles.
nd exposure to English football, shocked and intrigued him.