Widely acknowledged as one of the most accomplished defenders football has ever seen, Marcel succeeded Didier Deschamps as French captain, following the World Cup and European Championship successes. He led France to victory in the Confederations Cup held in South Korea and Japan in 2001.
In total he played 116 times for France, then a record, before retiring from international football following the 2004 European Championship.
He was awarded the Légion d'Honneur for his part in the 1998 World Cup triumph, and in 2001, on behalf of the French team, he received the Laureus World Team of the Year Award in Monaco in recognition of the nation’s European Championship victory.
Marcel was brought to France from Ghana when he was just four, after being adopted by a French diplomat. He became a professional footballer at the age of 18 with FC Nantes in 1986 and moved to Olympique Marseille six years later, where he was a member of the team which won the Champions League in 1993.
He was only with Olympique for two years before moving to Italian giants AC Milan who in 1994 also won the Champions League, making him the first player to win Europe’s most prestigious club competition in consecutive seasons with different clubs. In four years with Milan he won two Italian Serie A Championships in 1994 and 1996.
In 1998 Marcel moved for a fee of over €6 million to London club Chelsea, for whom he played for the final six years of his top class career. He was a member of Chelsea’s FA Cup winning side in 2000.
In 2004 he joined Qatar club Al-Gharafa as club captain and the team won the Qatar League in 2005. He played another year for Qatar SC before finally retiring from football in 2006.
An enthusiastic supporter of the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, Marcel Desailly became a trustee of the National Laureus Sport for Good Foundation in France and was elected a member of the Laureus World Sports Academy in 2007.
He has been an enthusiastic supporter of community sports projects in Ghana, backing the OrphanAid programme in Accra. In June 2011 he opened a sports facility in Ghana called Lizzy Sports Complex, in memory of his late mother, geared to young players and children.