Former Chelsea and Germany midfielder Michael Ballack accomplished quite a lot in his football career.
From winning 16 domestic trophies including five League titles to reaching two Uefa Champions League finals and securing a Fifa World Cup runners-up medal, as well as being named Germany’s Footballer of the Year three times.
However, the former midfielder says he regrets leaving Chelsea too soon.
Ballack made 105 appearances for Chelsea in the English Premier League scoring 14 goals with 16 assists to his name in four years at Stamford Bridge. He left the ‘Blues’ at the age of 33 to return to Germany, where he once again starred for Bayer Leverkusen.
“Today, I can say maybe it was wrong. I should have stayed, even for that one year,” Ballack told Sky Sports.
“I could never imagine that I would go back to [Bayer] Leverkusen. Until the last day, I actually thought we would find a way at Chelsea. I was really hoping I could stay until the end,” he said.
Ballack also revealed that then Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti wanted him to stay at the club. Ancelotti’s first season at the London-based outfit happened to be Ballack’s last.
“Carlo wanted me [to stay] but the club made a decision to only give players of that age a one-year contract. I wanted two,” added Ballack.
“Carlo was a gentleman and a smart guy, picking up things and seeing how players worked.”
“He found a good combination of being the person of respect, but also allowing every player to shine,” concluded the former Germany central midfielder.
Ballack went on to reflect on the four permanent Chelsea mangers he played under.
“The way he [Mourinho] worked was so intense that maybe you come to a point where things are not working anymore.
“Even then, the fans know what he achieved at the club to take them back to that level,” said Ballack.
“The relationship is still good with him. You will not find many players who speak badly about him.”
According to Ballack, Avram Grant never really had a chance to prove himself.
“It is really difficult, after Mourinho, to work at Chelsea. It could cause a problem for any manager because he had such a relationship with the players and the fans.
“We played really good football under him (Grant), we had more freedom. He managed the team in a different way. Not so leading the team but more by giving freedom to the players,” explained the former German international.
“A lot of players thought he would be weak, but he wasn’t. He was really smart and intelligent.”
“The club made a different decision, in terms of Luis Felipe Scolari, which didn’t work at all. He never really got a relationship with the players,” concluded Ballack.
By Tokelo Martin Mokhesi