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Michael Essien opens up on Chelsea exit

By Vincent Ashitey

Former Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien has opened up on his exit from the club.

The 37-year-old played 168 games and scored 17 goals for the London club from 2005 to 2014.

According to him, then Chelsea coached Di Matteo who led the club to Champions League triumph in 2012 was the one who pushed him out of the club.

The Italian manager replaced Andre Villas Boas half way into the 2011/2012 season and led Chelsea to the Champions League title later that season.

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After spending nine seasons with the Blues, Essien left the club to join Italian side AC Milan in 2014.

"Every injury I had when I was playing for Chelsea I came back stronger. I remember my first injury was around September 2008, I came back much stronger and took my position in the team," Essien told South African sports journalist, Carol Tsabalala.

"2010 was the same but when Villas-Boas came, I was unlucky because I was part of his plans. I knew him long ago because he worked with Jose. I was part of his plans but then I got injured so I didn't play any game for him. I returned from injury and played like just five minutes for him so he didn't really had chance to work with me."

"Another coach that was very good to me was Ancelloti [Carlo]. He's one of the best but he was unlucky because I started the season with him but didn't finish. The second-year I didn't start but finished with him so he got only like a year from me which was sad. It was due to injuries.

He added, "Di Matteo came and obviously I was coming back from injury and I remember we played a Champions League game against Napoli and we lost. It was an away game. I think that was the last game for Villas-Boas."

"The return game, Di Matteo made the decision to put all the big boys in the game...the Lampards, Drogbas, Makeleles, and the Essiens and we won 4-0 after extra time and qualified. A couple of weeks later he said I was not matched fit which I didn't appreciate because if that's the case why did I play 120 minutes a few weeks ago against Napoli, but anyway everyone sees things differently so I didn't mind because I was working for the team.

"That's when things started declining because I felt a bit down but then I had gotten an opportunity to go to Real Madrid so I proved to them that I'm back. I was playing at the right-back at Real Madrid which was one of the most difficult positions on the pitch but I managed to do it."