Tianjin Teda of China midfielder, John Mikel Obi has come out with a new angle to his recent absence from the Super Eagles, as he says he is not tired, but only opted out for a break.
After missing the Eagles’ last four matches in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, talk has been rife that Mikel is on the verge of quitting national team football, but the skipper says he cannot retire just yet.
Speaking against the backdrop of his recent launch of a youth football development project in Lagos and visit to the state’s former governor, Ashiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Mikel said he has the Eagles on his mind.
Mikel stopped short of confirming whether his national team absence was induced by recent fitness issues, which reportedly also accounted for his sparse outings with his club, as he insists he just took a break.
While also disclosing that he has been busy doping other things during his break, Mikel promised to go public before finally quitting the Eagles.
The former Chelsea star noted: “A lot has been said about my absence in the national team.
“I think if you have been doing something for a very long time, you will definitely ask for a little break.
“That’s what I have been on, I have been on break. I am not tired yet. The day I will retire, I will let everyone know before I make the statement.”
In the same vein, Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr has assured Nigerian soccer fans that Mikel will show commitment to the squad in future.
Rohr said he is sure Mikel has not retired from the Eagles, as he says the Tianjin Teda of China star actually asked him for a break from national team duty.
While hinting that Mikel will be back with the Eagles’ next year and play a key role heading into the Africa Cup of Nations, Rohr said the skipper had been hampered by injuries.
The Franco-German gaffer acknowledged that the same fitness issues also stopped Mikel from featuring regularly for his club, but said the ex-Lyn Oslo of Norway and Chelsea of England star promised to return to the Eagles once he is fully fit.
Rohr explained: ”The situation with Mikel is that after the World Cup, he wanted to take a little break from the national team.
”He was injured in the last games of his club, so he could not come. We will see what happens in the future.
“The other time we were in touch, he told me, honestly I’m not fit. But when I’ll be fit, I‘ll let you know.”