BY: ISAAC ORIEKA
John Micheal Nchekwube Obinna, is popularly known as Mikel Obi is a gifted Nigerian football star respected all over the World. He was born in Jos, Plateau, Nigeria, on April, 22, 1987. He started his primary education at Jos Metropolis Township Primary School where he began to develop a football passion for kicking balls. His skills attracted scouts at age 12, and he was selected by Pepsi Football Academy for his uncommon talent. His first official team was Plateau United.
Obi, Joined the U-17 team of Nigeria and participated in the FIFA World Championship held in Finland. His name was wrongly spelt when the Nigerian Football Association (NFA) then, sent his name to FIFA, Michael’s name was renamed MIKEL instead of MICHAEL, this made him to accept the name as his football name. He joined Lyn Football Club based in Oslo, Norway. He played for the team for two years (2004-2006) and made six (6) appearances.
Mikel Obi, recently announced his retirement from international football as the Super Eagles captain. He featured in 89 appearances for Nigeria between 2005 and 2019. The 32-year-old midfielder, scored 6 goals during his playing career. He contributed amazingly to the Super Eagles and played at the 2014 and 2018 World Cup finals.
He his humble, dedicated and an industrious citizen of Nigeria, with an excellent service to the Super Eagles for over a decade, winning the AFCON, played at the World Cup and the Olympics showcasing his Football talent to youths who desire to emulate him. He is a patriotic citizen, who has just signed for Trabzonspor in Turkey.
“According to him, it is time for me to retire at the age of 32, from the national team. Coach Gernot Rohr expected Mikel Obi to guide his young team for a few more years to reach the 2022 World Cup in Qatar” That was not to be.
In 2005, Mikel represented Nigeria in the FIFA World Youth Championship. The team performed well and got to the finals where they lost to Argentina (2-1), Messi who led the team was named the best player of the tournament. While Mikel was placed second best and made African player of the year, a crown he retained till 2006.
Obi joined Chelsea Football Club in 2006, controversially which dragged for months, and the controversy was finally resolved when Chelsea offered Manchester United a settlement of £I2M and Lyn £4M. His first outing for Chelsea was in 2006, UEFA Champions League match with Levski Sofia, a Bulgarian side, for 11 seasons, he was with the London Club as a defensive midfielder, scoring 6 goals in 374 appearances. They won 9 trophies during the period including 2011-2012 UEFA Champions League title and the 2012-2013 Europa League title. He was awarded Chelsea Young Player of the year, in 2007-2008 for his outstanding contributions to club’s performance.
Mikel, again, moved to Tiajin TEDA, a club in China, in January, 2017, following Chelsea’s refusal to renew his contract. He joined Middleborough in England on a short-term deal, before recently signing for the Turkish Club, Trabzonspor at the moment.
Mikel Obi, is from the South-East of Nigeria, his father Micheal, whom he is named after was a civil servant upon retirement. He runs a transport company. In August 2011, and during 2018 World Cup, his father was kidnapped but was released on both occasions. His mother, Irosu Obi, is a business woman, Ebere Obi and Patrick Obi, are his elder and younger brothers respectively.
Mikel has daughters who are twins, Ava and Mia Obi with wife, Olga Diyachenko who he met in 2013, a Russian business woman, and had the girls in September, 2015.
“My national career started in 2003 U-17 World Cup and I am grateful to the National team for placing me on the World Arena and giving me an opportunity to show my skills and have an incredible national and international career,” says Mikel.
He also helped the Super Eagles to win the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations. He was also part of the team that came third at the 2006-2010 Nations Cup. He made two appearances during the AFCON in 2019, in Egypt, where the Super Eagles sealed a third place at the tournament. He was one of the 3 over-aged players, when Nigeria won a Bronze Medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil.
Obi’s Weekly salary was about £82,000 in Chelsea. He even earned more in Tiajin TEDA F.C, in the range of £140,000. He is worth over £30m. He has a mansion in London and real estates in Nigerian cities including exotic vehicles.
FIFA, also congratulated him over his retirement from international football. “Happy retirement to Nigeria’s Football legend have a graceful life ahead.” Add his desire to retire and his pledge to continue to support the Super Eagles and other youth football championships in Nigeria.
What a colourful way to bow out from a profession that has brought fame and honored. Also his Super Eagles Colleagues have maintained that Obi, is a delectable instrument in the team, before his retirement therefore, they salute him for his determination to retire with a loud ovation.