John Mikel Obi is one of Nigeria’s most decorated footballers with Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup, Champions League and even Europa League glory with the Blues.
His road hasn’t been straightforward, however, as many will remember when he was being courted by both Manchester United and Chelsea and decided to leave Lyn Oslo for Chelsea.
Many felt the move was motivated by money and they thought that a career with the Red Devils would have done much more for his career, but in an interview with the Players’ Tribune, the Nigerian captain said that things weren’t what they seemed and that he chose Chelsea, not only for himself but also for some his peers whose careers were linked with his.
“So before I tell you my story, let’s just get that bit out of the way first. It’s been more than a decade and I still get asked this one thing about my time in England,” Mikel said in his interview
“‘Hey, what happened to you signing for Manchester United? How come you swapped for Chelsea at the last minute?’ Every time.“
“I’ll tell you what happened. I had all these people on both sides fighting over me. Agents, managers, strangers, guys handing me papers. I had Sir Alex Ferguson calling me on the phone on one side.
“And I had Roman Abramovich on the other side, putting me up in London, hiding me somewhere where only a few people knew where I was. It was really confusing, and I was a kid, you know?
“After a while, someone from FIFA gave me a phone call. They said, ‘Listen, we know you’re young and you have these two clubs fighting over you. We can’t decide for you. You can only go where you want. You have to tell us.’
“I thought about it for a long time. It was the biggest decision of my life.
“You know what made my mind up? Chelsea had signed three other players from Nigeria along with me. They were staying with me at the house in London to keep me company.
“These guys… their lives depended on the decision I was making. If I went to United, they were gone. If I went to Chelsea, they were going to have a career.
“No matter how long it lasted, that was important to me. Just to give them a chance, you know?”
Few can argue that Mikel had a good career as his trophy haul is a testament to this and his resilience even with the ever-changing nature of the Chelsea dressing room is not something to be sniffed at.