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Michael Ballack reveals why he snubbed Man Utd for Chelsea and key role Mourinho played

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Michael Ballack has explained the key factors that influenced him to snub Manchester United in favour of Chelsea when he moved to England from Bayern Munich in 2006. The German international claims United’s poor form at home and abroad was a warning sign while the opportunity to work with Jose Mourinho was one he couldn’t turn down.

Chelsea had just won back-to-back Premier League titles under the Portuguese boss while United had been knocked out in the group stages of the Champions League in the preceding season.

Both clubs were in for Ballack, who was a free agent after his contract expired at Bayern, and the combative midfielder opted to join the Stamford Bridge outfit.

Speaking about his decision to join Chelsea on Sky Sports’ Transfer Talk podcast, Ballack said: “One of the first were Man United to show interest, but they also hasn’t had the best year. I remember 2006 they went out in the group stage [of the Champions League].

“Winning the league is one thing but for me it was always the dream to win the Champions League. And what team could I really attack this trophy with? It was not easy to decide because there are so many good clubs but Man United in those days were not as good as before, like Bayern Munich – 2000, 2001 and even 1999 they had their best years.

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“And they went out in the first round [the previous yea], while Chelsea was winning the league twice with Jose Mourinho. They invested in a lot of players and had an amazing squad.

“For me, when Chelsea came I had to weigh these things. Man United are an amazing club with huge history but Chelsea also had huge ambitions.

“I chose Chelsea and the package was really good. I felt really comfortable with it, and London for me was also a point, an argument to join a great city.

“When you’re 29 and you’ve already got family, it’s important that they feel comfortable. I talked to my family and we made the decision to go to London.

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“I gave the sign quite early to my agent that I would prefer Chelsea from the beginning. If we could agree on the numbers and the circumstances, then that would be my preference.”

Ballack went on to win two FA Cups and a Premier league title during his four-year spell at Stamford Bridge, while he also tasted League Cup success and helped the Blues secure the Community Shield in 2009.

However, United embarked on a run of three consecutive domestic titles immediately after Ballack snubbed the Old Trafford club while they also claimed the bragging rights in the 2008 Champions League final.

The 43-year-old said he met Mourinho during early stages of negotiations with Chelsea, and was quickly on-board with the plans put forward by the ‘Special One’.

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“It was important for me to talk to the coach,” said Ballac.

“You really get caught by his personality and by his ambitions.

“Working with a coach like that was something totally new for me. He was impressive and I felt totally comfortable with the decision.”

However, Chelsea slipped off the pace in Ballack’s first season and Mourinho was soon replaced by Avram Grant.

The Israeli was in turn replaced by Luiz Felipe Scolari but the Brazilian was also given the boot so Guus Hiddink steadied the ship before Carlo Ancelotti took over at Stamford Bridge.

Ancelotti wanted to keep Ballack at the club but injury the FA Cup final against Portsmouth killed any hope of a new deal so he returned to Bayer Leverkusen for two more years before retiring in 2012.

For more news relating to Chelsea, visit our sister site Chelsea Live.
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