Villarreal of Spain winger, Samuel Chukwueze has revealed the deep level of admiration he holds for Super Eagles’ captain, John Mikel Obi, and says the former Chelsea of England star has been his major source of inspiration in the Nigerian national team.
Chukwueze, who wore Mikel’s iconic number 10 jersey for his Eagles’ debut against Seychelles, disclosed that he is happy to enjoy camping in the Nigerian national team alongside the skipper, who last played on a short-term deal with English Championship side, Middlesbrough.
The youngster, who was joint-third top scorer at Chile 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup, got his first match at the Africa Cup of Nations last Saturday against Burundi and, although he was then dropped for the second game against Guinea, Chukwueze was celebrated by analysts for his efforts.
Incidentally, he spent 85 minutes of the next game against Guinea on the bench alongside Mikel this past Wednesday, before replacing Alex Iwobi, but Chukwueze says that does not take anything from the awe he holds for the 32-year-old star, who first played abroad for Lyn Oslo of Norway and, after many laurels with Chelsea, for Tianjin Teda of China.
While shedding light on why he likes sitting next to Mikel during training sessions, Chukwueze declared that he really sees the Eagles’ captain as one of his idols and a role model.
The highly-rated Chukwueze, who enjoyed a breakthrough debut season in La Liga, as he sealed his place in Villarreal’s first team, which paved way for the 20-year-old to make Nigeria’s squad to AFCON 2019.
The fair-skinned left-footer, who has been tagged ‘New Arjen Robben,’ in recognition of the Bayern Munich and Dutch winger, said he is happy to make his AFCON debut, and gave thanks to Mikel, all his teammates and coaches for encouraging him all the way.
Chuwkwueze told Goal: “All the players have been good to me but the one who stands out is Mikel. To him, hard work is the easiest way to greatness.
“He always tells me to always be focused and concentrate on my game because I’m still growing up.
“The technical crew has been kind to me too. They keep encouraging me to do more and better because they believe in my ability.
“Playing in the Africa Cup of Nations is huge for me and a dream come true. I’ve been hoping to play in this competition as a kid and I’m so happy it’s coming at this time.”