Lee Carsley addresses the suggestion Real Madrid really wanted to sign HIM in 2005 but mistakenly bought Thomas Gravesen

Lee Carsley addresses the suggestion Real Madrid really wanted to sign HIM in 2005 but mistakenly bought Thomas Gravesen

Former Everton duo Lee Carsley and Thomas Gravesen were constantly mixed up, either purposefully or otherwise, when the pair played at Goodison Park together between 2002 and 2005.

Both bald central midfielders of similar stature, even their Premier League goals and appearances at Everton were similar. Carsley, 12 goals in 166 games; Gravesen, 11 goals in 141 games. 

Real Madrid came calling for Gravesen in the January of 2005, though. The Danish midfielder joined a Galacticos squad containing the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, Luis Figo and David Beckham. Meanwhile, Carsley stayed on Merseyside. 

Tongue in cheek rumours since have suggested that Real Madrid got the wrong player, instead wanting Carsley for their midfield. The current England U21 manager rejected that idea when asked by FourFourTwo, however,

“It’s a great story,” Carsley acknowledges to FFT, “but anyone who believes a rumour like that couldn’t have watched us play that season: we look quite similar, but Thomas was so much better at football than me. 

“He could dribble and create chances for others. I was better at the things he wasn’t good at, like tackling and tracking runners. The funniest thing about him moving to Real Madrid was seeing him wearing his Everton club suit and tie when he attended his first press conference in Spain!”

While Gravesen went onto play 66 times for Denmark, Carsley himself featured in 40 Republic of Ireland games at senior international level.

Carsley brutally assesses his international career, suggesting out of those 40 appearances, he could count the number of good games he had on one hand. 

“Representing the Republic of Ireland was big for me and my family,” Carsley admits. “I had some good experiences. 

“But I don’t think I played well for Ireland – honestly, in 40 caps, I probably had three good games. I couldn’t replicate my club form at international level. I’m not sure why that was, but I think about it a lot.”

While he did get selected for the 2002 World Cup, Carsley only made one brief substitute appearance in South Korea and Japan. He’s still positive when reflecting on the experience, though, but would have liked more game time.

“It was surreal. I remember the whole team sitting in a hotel in Japan, watching the opening game and realising we were part of a World Cup, but it was a frustrating time because I didn’t play as much as I wanted to. 

“If I’d been given the option to go home after a week, I probably would have taken it. Some of the lads had brilliant experiences and I’d like to think I supported them, but I wouldn’t put that down as a highlight of my career.”

More Lee Carsley stories

‘We’ve not won this tournament since 1984 – it’s about making our own history’: FourFourTwo speak exclusively to England manager Lee Carsley ahead of the under-21 Euros

Knocking over senior players, scoring hat-tricks and doing the ridiculous: Lee Carsley describes the experience of training with a 15-year-old Wayne Rooney

Gareth Ainsworth addresses THAT Maori dance teamtalk that went viral at QPR

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