The Chelsea midfielder Claude Makelele will join up with the France team this week even if his Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho, forbids him to go.
Makelele stepped in to try to defuse an increasingly hostile war of words between the France coach, Raymond Domenech, and Mourinho over the midfielder's call-up for the forthcoming Euro 2008 qualifiers. Domenech's decision to select Makelele clearly angered Mourinho, who claimed his player was being treated as a "slave" by the national coach.
Makelele has retired once from the international set-up, but returned to help France to reach the World Cup final last month. Mourinho claims he still wants to retire from international football, but Makelele made it clear he is honoured to represent his country and will join up with his national team-mates irrespective of Chelsea's wishes.
Makelele, 33, said: "Even if my club doesn't agree, I will humbly honour that call. It is normal to wear my country's shirt. The French team remains something huge to me. Above all, I am a professional. I do my job."
But Makelele suggested that Mourinho had overstepped the mark by labelling him a "slave". He said: "The words of my coach are a little strong. He probably went too far. But his disappointment is logical. There was an agreement after the World Cup for me to quit the national team. But I talked with the national coach. He believes I am still able to bring something. It is a difficult situation, because I will play more matches and so will be more tired. But I am on the list. I am forced to go."
Makelele could be banned for four domestic games if he fails to show and Mourinho continued to direct his anger at the France coach, saying: "Makelele wants to retire but his national coach won't allow him to retire... The situation is, in my opinion, unbelievable. I think Makelele is not a football player, Makelele is a slave."Reuse content