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Former Chelsea star Essien reveals frustrations with Di Matteo forced Real Madrid move

Chelsea legend Michael Essien says frustration with former Blues manager Roberto Di Matteo caused him to go on loan to Real Madrid in 2012.

Ahead of the 2012-13 season, the Ghanaian joined the Spanish giants on a season-long deal, reuniting with former manager Jose Mourinho. Essien who joined the Blues from French outfit Olympique Lyonnais in 2005, had only just started to return to first team action following an injury setback.

“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 said in an interview on Instagram Live.

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“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 [Mourinho]. 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 have a chance to work with me.

“Another coach that was very good to me was [Carlo] Ancelotti. 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."

The season before Essien's departure, the Ghanaian helped Chelsea reach the final of the Champions League but only watched from the bench as the Blues, under Di Matteo beat Bayern Munich to lift the trophy for a historic first time.

“Di Matteo came and obviously I was coming back from injury and I remember we played a Champions League [first leg] game against Napoli and we lost. It was an away game. I think that was the last game for Villas-Boas," Essien said.

“The return game, Di Matteo made the decision to put all the big boys in the game - Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Claude Makelele and me,and we won [4-1] after extra time and qualified.

“A couple of weeks later, he said I was not match fit which I didn’t appreciate because if that’s the case, why did I play 120 minutes some 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 right-back at Real Madrid which was one of the most difficult positions on the pitch but I managed to do it."

After the Madrid stint, Essien would return to make five league appearances at Stamford Bridge before joining Milan on a permanent deal in 2014. He left The Blues having won the Champions League, two Premier League titles, four FA Cup trophies, the League Cup and the Community Shield.

In the twilight of his career, the 37-year-old is currently on the books of Azerbaijani side Sabail.