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John Obi Mikel On Signing For Chelsea And Enjoying Success With Nigeria

Former Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel has been speaking about the best moments of his career after he announced his retirement from football last week aged 35.
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In 2005, Mikel made a move to Man United after signing from Lyn Oslo in Norway, with pictures of the Nigerian in a Red Devils shirt being shown all over the news, but the midfielder somehow ended up at Chelsea a year later.

Speaking to BBC Sport Africa, Mikel said: "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.

"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."

Having held serious interest in Mikel previously, Chelsea decided to act quickly with United having agreed a deal, so Mikel's agent John Shittu took his player to London, which caused Lyn to declare that Mikel had been kidnapped.

"I acted as a young kid and as soon as Chelsea heard the news, they came and got me out of Norway. 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."

Mikel started his career as an attacking midfielder, but upon arriving at Chelsea, Jose Mourinho was keen to deploy him in a more defensive role, with one of the Blues' old guard coming towards the end of his Stamford Bridge tenure.

"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.

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"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."

As well as winning the Champions League in 2012, Mikel won the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in 2013, being part of a Nigeria team that included Victor Moses, Kenneth Omeruo and legendary African goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, and he admits that those two victories will be remembered by him as two of the best moments in his career.

"I always wanted to win the Champions League because it is the best football tournament in the world apart from the World Cup.

"To then win something with the national team was great. As a kid watching the likes of Jay-Jay Okocha and Kanu, I said I want to win something with my country.

"I am so happy to have managed to do that. I will rank both of them top as my most cherished trophies."

Mikel made 372 appearances for Chelsea across his 11-year spell at the club, before leaving for China in January 2017. He also played for Middlesbrough, Trabzonspor, Stoke City and Kuwait SC before leaving the latter in November 2021.


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