Former Ghana international Michael Essien has disclosed that Jose Mourinho was worried that he would join Arsenal from Chelsea before his loan move to Real Madrid in 2012.
The 37-year-old was an integral player at Stamford Bridge after joining from Olympique Lyonnais in 2005, winning nine trophies with the Blues.
He spent seven years at the club before reuniting with Mourinho at Madrid for the 2012/13 campaign.
But before his switch to Los Blancos, the Spur manager believed that the midfielder was heading to Arsenal and was desperate to convince him to move to La Liga.
"I was with Chelsea in Monaco for the Super Cup and a strange number called me but I didn’t want to answer it but my cousin who was in the room with me that day told me to pick it up," Essien said in an Instagram live with Carol Tshabalala.
‘The number kept calling so I picked and as soon as I said hello and another hello came from the other end and I realised who was on the phone so I told my cousin it’s Jose Mourinho.
"We started talking and he said, 'I heard you’re on your way to Arsenal". But I told him it’s not true. I had not heard anything from Arsenal. Then he said don’t go to Arsenal, come to me and I asked him where, and he said Real Madrid so I told him I’m ready.
"It was the last day of the transfer window and he said okay give me your agent’s number. I told him I’m ready even if it means I have to leave in the midst of the Super Cup game and he said Lassana Diarra was supposed to move to Russia so if he accepts to go then they will process my transfer and I told him, ‘okay, I’m waiting, just chilling in my room'. He said give me a couple hours I’ll call back and I said cool.
"My agent called after a few hours and said what happened and I told him I spoke to Jose about moving to Madrid and said he gave Jose my number. He told me to relax because Madrid will come and I just said okay.
"Lassana accepted to move to Russia so then we had to change our plans because we were about to leave the hotel to the stadium to play Atletico Madrid. Real Madrid were doing their with my agent and I was in the bus as we were about to leave to the stadium.
"It was even going and my agent called me and said, ‘where are you?’ and I told him we’re on our way to the stadium.
"He said come back to the hotel I’m coming there. He said he had to send some fax to some people so I had to shout at the bus driver to stop like some mad man.
"All my teammates were looking at me like, ‘Michael what’s going on?’. I told them I needed to get off the bus and I’ll see you guys later. ‘So anyway the bus stopped and I went back to the hotel to wait for my agent. My agent came and sent the fax and thankfully everything got finalised on time.
"I told him I have to go to the stadium because at least I had to pick my boots so we got to the stadium but then they had finished the match.
"I joined my teammates on the pitch but some of them had heard the news that I was going to Madrid. Some of them also asked what was going on so obviously I had to tell them.
"I explained to them that this deal came up and I had to return to the hotel to finish the paperwork. So in coming back to pick my boots I had to tell them goodbye.
"After the ceremony we went back to the dressing room where I properly wished them goodbye. I just took my shin pads and boots and that’s it.
"I said bye to everyone including [Roman] Abramovich and he wished me good luck and then I went back to the hotel. The next day I was on a plane to Madrid.
"I went to Madrid with just my boots, shin pads, a pair of jeans and a shirt and my Chelsea tracksuit. ‘I got to the airport Jose was there waiting for me. He greeted me and I went to the hospital to undergo my medical and the next day I started training."
Essien currently plays for Sabail FK in Azerbaijan.
He has previously played for clubs including Liberty Professionals, Bastia, Lyon, Chelsea, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Panathinaikos, and Persib Bandung.