Emenalo recalls days at Stamford Bridge

FORMER Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo believes his “aptitude and competence” have “not been presented correctly” because he is black.

The former Nigeria international joined Chelsea as chief scout in 2007, before progressing to assistant first-team coach and then technical director in 2011. He oversaw sustained domestic and continental success at the club, while also developing an academy system which is now recognised as one of the best in the world.

Along with QPR director of football Les Ferdinand, Emenalo is one of two black people to have held such roles at a Premier League club, and he admits consciously keeping a low profile at Chelsea due to the additional scrutiny his race created.

Emenalo points to the example of black manager Chris Hughton, who has been sacked three times in the last decade – by Newcastle, Norwich and most recently Brighton – despite having delivered significant achievements at each club.

“One of the reasons I stayed discreet during my time at Chelsea was because I was in a unique situation,” Emenalo told the Guardian. “I had to choose whether I would let my activism be a distraction or allow my presence to be an inspiration. Some people were waiting for me to become an activist so that was very difficult for me.

“I don’t think my story was told the right way to influence the attention. I feel my aptitude and competence has not been presented correctly. And now people are co-opting my work and trying to mask my contribution.

“The narrative has to change. The narrative right now is always that white is good. So it doesn’t matter what Chris Hughton produces as a manager. There’s always someone saying a white guy can do it better. People need to do the right thing. Like Martin Luther King said: ‘Judge me by my competence – not my skin colour’.”

Chelsea won three Premier League titles and achieved their sole Champions League triumph while Emenalo was in central roles from 2009 to 2017, but his greatest achievement may have been the development of the club’s academy.

 



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Emenalo recalls days at Stamford Bridge Emenalo recalls days at Stamford Bridge Reviewed by Osigwe Omo-Ikirodah on July 20, 2020 Rating: 5

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