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MICHAEL ESSIEN has revealed how Manchester United let him slip through their fingers as a kid — now he wants REVENGE.

Chelsea's midfield star, 25, admits he very nearly became a Red Devil after a week on trial at Old Trafford, aged 17.

Instead, Essien ended up joining the Blues for £24.4million from French outfit Lyon in August 2005.

But he grew up idolising Roy Keane and revealed only a failed bid for a work permit stopped him signing for his boyhood heroes in 2000.

Yet the Ghanaian international insists he will have the last laugh — by beating Alex Ferguson's side to this season's Premier League title.

In his most revealing interview since moving to England, Essien said: “I grew up in Accra in the city and I was the only boy in a family of four girls.

“That was difficult enough but my dad used to be a footballer and always encouraged me to just concentrate on that.
One-week trial

“All I wanted to do was play and, although we were poor, I used to kick an old ball around in the street with my friends.

“I started taking it seriously at about nine years old but my career really took off when I came home from the Under-17 World Cup.

“Suddenly lots of clubs were interested in me.

“I had always dreamed of playing in Europe and, as a boy, my team were Manchester United. When they offered me a one-week trial I just couldn't believe it, I was so happy.

“I remember being there and thinking ‘Wow, this is the biggest club in the world'.

“I never had the courage to speak to any of the big players. I never even trained with the first-team squad.

“But I did train with the youth team and Kieran Richardson was there at the time.

“Now I play against some of the same names that were there, like Ryan Giggs.

“They probably don't even remember that I was there on trial.â€

At Ghana's Dubai training camp ahead of next week's African Nations Cup, shy Essien added: “My biggest hero was Roy Keane. I just loved the way he used to play, his attitude and commitment.

“I still try to play like him now and maybe people compare us as I play a similar holding role in midfield as he used to.

“At the end of the trial, the club said they really liked me and wanted to sign me.

“But they could not sort out a work permit and the move never happened.

“Instead, I ended up joining Bastia in France before moving to Lyon and then Chelsea.

“I'm not sure what Alex Ferguson would say about it now. Today I could move there no problem because I have the right documents.

“But I'll never go there because I am so happy at Chelsea. Now I'm a Chelsea fan through and through.

“Right now I am just happy I chose the right club and hope I can go on and make United pay by winning lots of trophies.â€

In fact, Fergie must kick himself every time he sees Essien in action. His midfield enforcer tag is hard won and has cost him seven yellow cards and a red — against Derby in November — already this term.

He is, though, one of those key players every successful team needs and would also have been the perfect replacement for former skipper Keane — who United have never really managed to fully replace.

Chelsea will no doubt miss Essien's impact as much as Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba's goals during this month's African Nations Cup.

But Essien insists his side can still manage without him — and is adamant the Blues will be in the title race when he returns to Stamford Bridge in February.

Essien added: “It's difficult leaving the team right now because it is a difficult period of the season.

“We might not win the title now but you can definitely lose it if you slip, so it's not ideal.

“But I'm positive we have the quality in our squad to pull through. I still believe we have a great chance of winning the title.

“We are still in the hunt for four trophies, so things are going well right now. We had a lot of injuries before and now other players are leaving for the African Nations Cup.

“Yet still we keep on winning. I think this year the title will go down to the very end and I'm sure we can do it.

“I keep calling my team-mates to find out how they are doing. They got a good result against Everton and I spoke to Shaun Wright-Phillips after the game.

“But it's hard at the moment because I am trying my best to concentrate on the African Nations Cup.

“I think Ghana can win it but it will be tough becaus there is so much expectation and pressure to deliver.

“Didier and Salomon Kalou both wind me up saying Ivory Coast will win. But, at home in front of our own fans, I am sure we will give it everything.â€
 

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Essien is an ignorant sod. If he wanted to play for Manchester United so much then why did he not reject any offers from Chelsea and join United?
Manchester United actually offered Lyon his services but for some reason he decided to join Chelsea instead, which to me sounds like the move was money motivated if anything else.

He goes on about how much he loved Manchester United and that now he loves Chelsea through and through? Personally I don't understand that because he said he loves Manchester United through and through. If he was a true United fan then he wouldn't say that.

When footballers join football clubs, it's work. Nothing else. Wayne Rooney may play for United and that's where he's employed but he'll always love Everton and that goes for every other footballer and whatever boyhood team they support. Footballers get paid for their services, just like every ordinary working class person. Ofcourse, if you're playing for the team you supported as a boy, then that's different, it's work and a dream in one.

And how come he's getting revenge? What reason is there to have revenge if he could of become a United player to start with? I think he's just a pathetic person and his attitude is something we do not want at United. Personally, as far as I can see it, the title is between Arsenal and United and Chelsea, well, I think think they'll be happy with third or fourth place.

He sounds to me like a whinging little bitch, if nothing else and him and Ballack will soon realise that their mistake was joining Chelsea instead of United.
Chelsea are nothing without Jose Mourinho and I can see Roman Abramovich sacking Avram Grant after only one season in charge, and bringing in a man of his own, preferably Russian.

Essien could of became more of a United legend at Old Trafford than he ever could be at Chelsea, he chose the wrong club, simple as that. But hey, it's his career, he can make his own mistakes and whinge about it.
 

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GeordieMancunian said:
Essien is an ignorant sod. If he wanted to play for Manchester United so much then why did he not reject any offers from Chelsea and join United?
Manchester United actually offered Lyon his services but for some reason he decided to join Chelsea instead, which to me sounds like the move was money motivated if anything else.

He goes on about how much he loved Manchester United and that now he loves Chelsea through and through? Personally I don't understand that because he said he loves Manchester United through and through. If he was a true United fan then he wouldn't say that.

When footballers join football clubs, it's work. Nothing else. Wayne Rooney may play for United and that's where he's employed but he'll always love Everton and that goes for every other footballer and whatever boyhood team they support. Footballers get paid for their services, just like every ordinary working class person. Ofcourse, if you're playing for the team you supported as a boy, then that's different, it's work and a dream in one.

And how come he's getting revenge? What reason is there to have revenge if he could of become a United player to start with? I think he's just a pathetic person and his attitude is something we do not want at United. Personally, as far as I can see it, the title is between Arsenal and United and Chelsea, well, I think think they'll be happy with third or fourth place.

He sounds to me like a whinging little bitch, if nothing else and him and Ballack will soon realise that their mistake was joining Chelsea instead of United.
Chelsea are nothing without Jose Mourinho and I can see Roman Abramovich sacking Avram Grant after only one season in charge, and bringing in a man of his own, preferably Russian.

Essien could of became more of a United legend at Old Trafford than he ever could be at Chelsea, he chose the wrong club, simple as that. But hey, it's his career, he can make his own mistakes and whinge about it.

Totally agree with you. He had the chance and instead greed took over and he went to chelsea.
 

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Michael Essien is one of the best midfielders in the Premiership and I'd have him at United in a heartbeat.

What do you expect the guy to say in an interview?

"I play for Chelsea but I love Man United"

That wouldn't have gone down well with the Chelsea fans!!!

He never even mentions the word 'revenge' - the author of the article has just put it in the title.
 
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