John Mikel Obi Admits That Choosing To Sign For Chelsea Over Manchester United Was The Best Decision He Ever Made

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John Mikel Obi, a former captain of Nigeria, claims that choosing Chelsea over Manchester United in a hotly contested trade in 2006 was the “best decision” of his professional life.

John Mikel Obi Admits That Choosing To Sign For Chelsea Over Manchester United Was The Best Decision He Ever Made

The midfielder, who announced his retirement last week at the age of 35, was at the center of a contentious dispute in 2005 between the Red Devils and the Blues before joining the latter team the following year.

After initially signing for the Manchester team from Norwegian club Lyn Oslo, his choice to relocate to London ultimately paid off.

In an 11-year career that came to an end when he left Stamford Bridge in 2017, Mikel established himself as one of the club’s most decorated players, winning the Champions League, Europa League, two Premier Leagues, two League Cups, and four FA Cups.

“I don’t regret any decision I made because I enjoyed everything I achieved at Chelsea – it’s the best decision I have ever made in my life,” Mikel told BBC Sport Africa.

“I signed a pre-contract for Manchester United when I was 17. If you are a kid and you see Sir Alex Ferguson right in front of you with the contract, of course you will be tempted.”

Chelsea was surprised when he signed for their opponents despite having lots of prior running. Lyn quickly filed a missing person report while John Shittu, the player’s agent, hurried to Oslo to transport the player to London.

Then, unfounded reports claiming Mikel had been abducted were all over the Norwegian television.

“I acted as a young kid and as soon as Chelsea heard the news, they came and got me out of Norway,” recalled the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations winner.

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“That’s when people started saying that I was kidnapped. It wasn’t a great moment for me then. I just wanted to play football because I was so young.”

The 35-year-old began his career as an attacking midfielder, and at the junior level, he was unquestionably among the best in the league.

He gained notoriety when he played for Nigeria’s Under-17 and Under-20 teams as a typical number 10 behind the forwards, helping the latter team reach the 2005 Under-20 World Cup final.

Who is Mikel John Obi?

Mikel John Obi, a former professional football player from Nigeria who played defensive midfield, was born John Michael Nchekwube Obinna on April 22, 1987.

Mikel started his career with the regional team Plateau United before switching to the Norwegian club Lyn in 2004 when he was 17 years old.

John Mikel Obi Admits That Choosing To Sign For Chelsea Over Manchester United Was The Best Decision He Ever Made

He controversially moved to English team Chelsea in 2006 after Manchester United allegedly claimed to have already signed him.

He spent 11 years with Chelsea before departing for China in 2017 with Tianjin TEDA. He spent two years in China before returning to England on a temporary deal with Middlesbrough. In July 2019, he joined Trabzonspor on a free transfer.

Mikel rejoined Stoke City in August 2020 after returning to England.

He played 91 times for Nigeria throughout the course of a 14-year international career, between 2005 and 2019, and scored six goals.

Chelsea And United’s Transfer Saga

Manchester United of the Premier League made the announcement that they had reached an agreement with Lyn to recruit Mikel on April 29, 2005, just a few days after the player turned 18.

On their website, United also stated that they had a direct agreement with the adolescent and that he had signed a contract committing him to their team.

Chelsea got the young player to sign a four-year contract without the assistance of Mikel’s agents. According to reports, Lyn claimed in a fax sent to his international representatives that Mikel no longer needed their services.

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According to reports, the initial price of the agreement was £4 million, and the player was scheduled to join Old Trafford in January 2006.

Later, Chelsea, a rival Premier League team of Manchester United, counter-claimed that they already had a deal with Mikel and his agency, but Lyn refuted this assertion.

Nevertheless, subsequent rumors stated that Chelsea had arranged for the player’s initial trip to Europe with the intention of later signing him.

After it was made public that the player had impressed Chelsea manager José Mourinho while working out with the team’s first-team players in the summer of 2004, this assertion gained additional support.

In a hurriedly convened press conference when he was photographed holding up a Manchester United shirt sporting the squad number 21, Mikel professed his happiness at joining United.

There have been allegations from Norway that he received several threatening phone calls after signing the contract to join United. Mikel was sent to a secure hotel and given a security guard.

John Mikel Obi Admits That Choosing To Sign For Chelsea Over Manchester United Was The Best Decision He Ever Made

Nine days after going missing, Mikel was staying in a hotel in London when he claimed on Sky Sports News that Lyn and Manchester United had forced him into signing the deal with United without Lyn’s presence.

Mikel admitted to the British media that Chelsea was the team he truly desired to join.

Chelsea intervened by offering to resolve the transfer controversy by discussion with Lyn and Manchester United, rather than letting FIFA decide the legality of the deal signed with that team.

Switching Roles at Chelsea

A year after taking home the Silver Ball at that tournament in the Netherlands, Mikel finally made the drawn-out move to Chelsea.

The Nigerian was transformed into a holding midfielder by Blues Manager Jose Mourinho, a position he held during his time at the West London club, to to the chagrin of football supporters back home.

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Many were critical of Mikel’s new position at Chelsea as they watched him succeed as an attacking midfielder, but Mikel claims he had no problems making the transition to playing defense.

“Mourinho decided that he wanted me to play the defensive midfield position. At the end of the day, he is the coach and made the decision,” Mikel recalled.

“We discussed and he felt that because of the big midfield players he had in his squad at Chelsea that I should play the defensive midfield role.

“[Claude] Makelele was just finishing his career at Chelsea, so Mourinho wanted me to take over from Makelele.”

John Mikel Obi Accomplishments

Before declaring his retirement from international football three years ago, Mikel amassed 89 caps for Nigeria, participated in two World Cups, and helped the West Africans win the 2013 Nations Cup.

In a career that began in Jos and led him to Norway and China via England, Turkey, and Kuwait, he finds joy in taking home the biggest medals for club and country.

Since the African team he was captaining earned a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Mikel was also one of Nigeria’s three overage players.

After returning from that fruitful journey to South America, he eventually left Chelsea, joined Tianjin TEDA in China, and briefly played for Middlesbrough in 2019.

John Mikel Obi Admits That Choosing To Sign For Chelsea Over Manchester United Was The Best Decision He Ever Made

He was recalled to the Nigerian team for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, but he only made two appearances as the Super Eagles finished third in Egypt, thanks to his time at the Riverside Stadium.

These are his accomplishments to date:

Chelsea

  • Premier League: 2009–10, 2014–15
  • FA Cup: 2006–07, 2008–09, 2011–12
  • Football League Cup: 2006–07
  • FA Community Shield: 2009
  • UEFA Champions League: 2011–12
  • UEFA Europa League: 2012–13

Trabzonspor

  • Turkish Cup: 2019–20

Nigeria

  • Africa Cup of Nations: 2013; third place: 2006, 2010, 2019

Nigeria Olympic

  • Summer Olympics bronze medalist: 2016

Individual

  • FIFA World Youth Championship Silver Ball: 2005
  • CAF Most Promising Talent of the Year: 2005
  • Chelsea Young Player of the Year: 2007, 2008
  • CAF Team of the Year:2005, 2013
  • Africa Cup of Nations Team of the Tournament: 2013
  • African Footballer of the Year runner-up: 2013

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