William Gallas has said he had never heard of Chelsea and initially did not want to move to England because of the cold weather before finally opting for a career-defining switch to Stamford Bridge.
Playing at Marseille in 2001, Gallas, 39, had his heart set on a move to Fiorentina, based in the Italian city of Florence.
However, Gallas' agent at the time, Pape Diouf, who would later become president of Marseille, advised him to opt for London where the opportunity to play alongside 1998 FIFA World Cup and Euro 2000 winner Marcel Desailly would enhance his prospects of representing his country.
"I turned down the chance to go to Fiorentina before I went to Chelsea. That was down to Pape," Gallas told SFR Sport.
"His plan for my career was for me to play for France. After Marseille, I wanted to go to Fiorentina, because it's sunny there ... You know, you're in Marseille, you get up, it's sunny, you're happy to go to training. And Pape was talking to me about Chelsea.
"At the time, I didn't know Chelsea, I didn't know where it was...at the time, I didn't follow the English league much. Pape told me: 'Look, you have to go to Chelsea.' I said, 'No, what am I going to do there? It's cold there.' He told me, 'No, Marcel is there. If you can get into that side, if you can play with him, you'll play for France.' And I followed that advice."
Gallas, who went on to win two Premier League titles with the Blues in a five-year spell before then joining Arsenal for four years and Tottenham Hotspur for three, made his senior international debut in October 2002, going on to win a total of 84 caps.