One of Nigeria’s most consistently performing footballers in Europe. I guess consistently is relative in this scenario as he was relegated to the bench at various times, but he still held his own and was a mainstay in Chelsea’s team albeit not a guaranteed regular in the starting lineup. Yet, he stood the test of time at Chelsea, and played major and minor roles under various managers when called upon. He was a major player in Chelsea’s UCL triumphant team.
John Michael Nchekwube Obinna also known as Obi Mikel, an attacking minded and creative midfielder was signed by Jose Mourinho in his first stint at Chelsea. His signing, however, was not without controversy as there were some hassles between Chelsea and Manchester United for his signature as the player had shone in the just concluded Under 20 world cup tournament, rubbing shoulders with the yet to be world’s greatest back then. He was however restricted to playing the holding midfield position and that has been the turn of his career ever since
Mikel isn’t known for his scoring ability. A good controller of the ball, decent passing range, although he has been heavily criticized for always playing safe and for his propensity to pass backwards, sideways and diagonally. Nevertheless, a good dribbler and rarely ever loses the ball or has it taken away from his feet when in possession. He has scored a few goals in his career, and these goals were followed by massive celebrations and have become talking points for days, months, seasons and years to come.
We have looked at his career so far, and have chosen a few sweet moments from his career for club and country.
- Mikel’s popularity rose worldwide as Manchester United and Chelsea fought for his signature, making him a player to watch out for.
- He came on as a sub in the AFCON 2006 game against Zimbabwe in a goalless and cagey encounter before his introduction, turned the game on its head and provided the assist for the opener through a corner and scored the second goal. His first ever goal for the Nigerian national team
- Played the full length of the game and played a major part in Chelsea defeating Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena to lift their first ever UCL trophy. That was huge!
- Scored his first ever Chelsea goal in the FA cup against Macclesfield Town in a 6:1 rout and scored again against Nottingham Forest in the next round of the competition
- He scored his first ever Olympics goal in 2016 in a 2:0 win against Denmark
- He was a mainstay and major contributor on the pitch to Nigeria’s 2013 AFCON triumph against all odds.
- He provided the assist for Salomon Kalou’s equalizer for Chelsea against Manchester United through a carefully lofted free kick in the 2008/2009 season under Felipe Scolari in a hotly contested encounter. Never forget his pre-assist against Man United for Drogba’s goal and Chelsea’s triumph over Man United in the 2007 FA cup final
- He scored his first ever premier league goal unexpectedly against Fulham on the 21st of September, 2013.
- Started for Chelsea against PSG in the 2016 UCL round of 16 and scored an away goal from a corner kick to give Chelsea a lifeline and away goal advantage which they failed to capitalize on some weeks later.
- We saved the best for last. His goal against Uruguay in the FIFA Confederations Cup. A well-taken messi-esque control, body feint, dribble and superb finish which gave Muslera no chance. The stadium, Nigeria, and some parts of Africa went agog when they saw the goal scorer. I was in Ghana at the time, wasn’t seeing the game but was alerted by loud screams of Mikel! Mikel Obi! When the ball hit the back of the net.
Mikel has since moved to China for a new challenge. He still represents the Nigerian national team and scored against Algeria in a World Cup qualifier. He provided an assist in the same game. Mikel’s personality on the pitch has caused rifts between fans at club and national team level. He is still a great and important player for the Nigerian national team