Super Eagles’ captain, John Mikel Obi is set to miss the chance for his 89th Nigeria cap, as he is still in doubt for this Wednesday’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations round of 16 battle with South Africa.
Mikel has been left in doubt for the game, after he has missed training with the squad all through this week, alongside Bursaspor of Turkey defender, Shehu Abdullahi, who is yet to recover from a knock from the first game, but Jamilu Collins is back with full force.
Mikel has started two matches in Egypt, but had to be replaced in both, and missed the second group match against Guinea, in order to rest his legs, but it appears like the coach, Gernot Rohr’s efforts to contain his skipper have not yielded the desired results.
Such it was that the former Chelsea of England star missed Nigeria’s historic 3-2 victory against Cameroon on Saturday, and ended up admitting that he is featuring in his last edition of the Nations Cup.
Mikel appears to have resigned himself top fate, and opted to stay far from most team activities for the day, as he was not only missing from training, but also skipped dinner with the squad on Tuesday evening.
Born 22 April 1987 in Jos, full name John Michael Nchekwube Obinna, the Eagles’ skipper is the son of Michael Obi, who runs an inter-state transport company in the capital of Plateau State.
Mikel started his football career at the age of 12 with Pepsi Football Academy, and was later picked to play for top-flight Plateau United of Jos, where he attracted attention of Nigeria’s under-17 national team, Golden Eaglets’ caoches.
During preparations for the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Cup, an official of then Nigeria Football Association (NFA) mistakenly submitted “Mikel” as his name for the tournament in Finland, instead of Michael.
He decided to keep the new name, then made it official before the cadet mundial but, on July 31, 2006, he refrained his full name as Mikel John Obi instead of John Obi Mikel, as he had commonly been called.
Following the tournament in Finland, Mikel had trials at Ajax Cape Town of South Africa, only to eventually join Lyn Oslo of Norway in January 2005 and, five months later, played for Nigeria at the FIFA World Youth Championship in Holland.
He had an excellent outing, named second best player behind Lionel Messi, as Nigeria reached the final, where they lost 2–1 to Argentina, and Manchester United of England moved fast to sign him.
United’s then manager, Alex Ferguson considered travelling to Oslo to visit Mikel, but decided against this after the star declarewd that he had been pressured into signing the contract with The Red Devils, without his agent present.
Although the claim was furiously rebuffed by both United and Lyn, Mikel told British media that Chelsea were the club he wanted to sign for.
In response, United made an official complaint to FIFA about Chelsea as well as the player’s agents, John Ola Shittu and Rune Hauge, but the world soccer governing body dismissed these claims in August 2005, stating there was insufficient evidence against The Blues.
On 12 August 2005, FIFA ruled that Mikel should return to fulfill the remainder of his contract with Lyn, and they would decide at a later date whether his contract with United should be upheld or cancelled.
After a delay of over a month, Mikel complied with the FIFA decision and returned to Lyn in September 2005, but Chelsea volunteered to settle the transfer saga through negotiation with Lyn and Manchester United.
On 2 June 2006, Chelsea, United and Lyn reached a settlement to resolve the future of Mikel, who registration was to be transferred from Lyn to The Blues, while The Red Devils agreed to terminate their option.
Under terms of this agreement, Chelsea agreed to pay United £12m, half paid on sealing the deal and the other in June 2007, with an additional £4m going to Lyn, half payable immediately and half in June 2007.
On 19 July 2006, Chelsea were granted a work permit for Mikel, after they completed the £16m signing in June 2006, after which he went on to star for the club until moving to Tianjin Teda of China in 2017, after winning the EPL, Europa League and Champions League with The Blues.
The rest is already well known about the Nigerian icon, who early this week signed for Trabzonspor of Turkey, after playing for five months with Middlesbrough of England last season, as another legendary career rapidly comes to a climax…