Newly-retired former Nigerian football captain, John Obi Mikel has revealed that his decision to join Chelsea instead of Manchester United was the best decision of his career.
In 2006, Mikel was at the centre of a highly controversial transfer between the two England giant clubs. A young Mikel had then gotten recognised for his talents after an impressive showing at the 2005 U20 World Cup where he had won the Silver Ball, with Lionel Messi winning the Golden Ball award.
After the tournament, Manchester United and Chelsea sought his signature but the London side ended up signing him £16million – more than they would have liked to spend – as the young Nigerian initially agreed to join their Premier League rivals from Lyn Oslo in Norway.
The decision however paid off as Mikel, 35 remained at Chelsea for 11 years and won two Premier League titles, three FA Cups, the League Cup, the Champions League and Europa League.
Speaking with BBC Sport Africa on Monday, Mikel shed more light on his successful years at the Blues.
“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,” Mikel said. “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 made plenty of previous running, Chelsea were shocked when he signed for their rivals. His agent John Shittu immediately travelled to Oslo to take the player to London, while Lyn swiftly declared him missing.
The news was all over Norwegian TV, with erroneous reports 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,” recalled the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations winner.
“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 on Thursday announced his retirement from professional football after a 20-year professional career.
The midfielder, who lifted the Champions League with Chelsea in 2012, won 89 caps for Nigeria and helped the Super Eagles win the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, before retiring from international football in 2019.