Mikel joined Chelsea from Norwegian football team, Lyn in 2006 as a shy baby-faced teenager
Mikel won all the major competitions available to an English Premier League team
He departed Chelsea as one of the team’s most celebrated players
He is unarguably the most successful Nigerian soccer player in English Premier League, especially in terms of longevity and laurels.
Two-time Chelsea Young Player of the Year, Mikel Obi has left the club after a wonderful ten and a half years.
His colleagues and fans across world have paid tributes as the 29-year-old confirms exit, following his signing to Chinese club, Tianjin Teda where he stands to earn around N70m per week.
Mikel admitted in his statement that he has not featured as much this season as he would have liked, and at 29 he still has many years in the game ahead.
The Super Eagles skipper departed Chelsea as one of the team’s most celebrated players and unarguably the most successful Nigerian football player in English Premier League, especially in terms of longevity and laurels.
Former skipper of the national team Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha, Nwankwo Kanu, Obafemi Martins and others are among many prominent Nigerians footballers to have featured in the English top-flight league, which is the most popular in the world.
Mikel joined Chelsea from Norwegian football team, Lyn in 2006 as a shy baby-faced teenager; at the time they faced huge fight from EPL giant, Manchester United – which initially signed him before the deal was hijacked by the London club.
Many think the total of six goals Mikel scored in 374 appearances for the West London club in a decade is very little, but he has shut down critics with his tenacious doggedness and tactical discipline, which made him irreplaceable in the team as it went on winning many cups and titles.
Mikel won all the major competitions available to an English Premier League team during his term with The Blues. They include:
Premier League: 2009–10, 2014–15
FA Cup: 2006–07, 2008–09, 2009–10, 2011–12
League Cup: 2006–07, 2014-15
FA Community Shield: 2009
UEFA Champions League: 2011–12
UEFA Europa League: 2012–13
The 29-year-old also joined other notable Chelsea greats including Petr Cech, Didier Drogba, Branislav Ivanovic and Gianfranco Zola who reached the 300-game landmark for the club.
Many expected much from the football prodigy who was discovered by Pepsi Football Academy, then signed to Nigerian Premiere League club, Plateau United, before his move to Europe.
In 2005, Mikel represented Nigeria at the FIFA World Youth Championships hosted by Netherlands. Nigeria however lost 2-1 to Argentina in the finals, but Mikel was honoured with the Silver Ball behind Lionel Messi who took home the Golden Ball in the tournament.
Since their break out (Mikel and Messi), the main highlights of their individual careers have been with Chelsea and Barcelona respectively – with Messi being more successful on an individual and club level, while Mikel has been more successful at the national level, boasting of a Nation’s Cup gold medal.
Many pundits and critics have continually stated that the duo can only show their real mettle when they change teams, but this writer thinks it’s not necessary as both has shown under different coaches and tactics that they can deliver when it matters.
Mikel Obi played a pivotal role under Roberto Di Matteo when Chelsea won their first ever Champions League title in 2012. He also shone under José Mourinho, Carlo Ancelloti, Avram Grant and Guus Hiddink to win other laurels and accolades.
John Mikel Obi may have been frozen out of Chelsea by Antonio Conte, who has not played the midfielder in the club’s team since he led Nigeria to a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, but the new Italian manager cannot freeze the achievements and history of the lanky Nigerian at the club, which has made him the most successful Nigerian footballer that has played in England.
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