John Shittu is a person that knows one or two things about spotting talent. The renowned football agent is famously known for brokering the deal that took John Mikel Obi to Manchester United and then Chelsea.
John Shittu Exclusive: Renowned football agent speaks on Nigerian talents, relationship with Mikel and move to Chelsea
The FIFA-Licensed football agent spoke to Pulse Sports on several issues, including the deal that took John Mikel Obi to Chelsea.
The deal was as controversial as it got, with Mikel claiming he was forced to sign for Manchester United. Mikel had initially joined United from Lyn Oslo, but the Nigerian claimed he was forced to sign for the Red Devils as he wanted to join Chelsea.
This led to a battle between both clubs, which was taken to FIFA, with Chelsea eventually winning the case. During this period, Mikel was out of action for six months, although he played for Nigeria at the 2006 Nations Cup.
Shittu's relationship with Chelsea
Shittu was Mikel's agent during that time and was involved in the deal. When Pulse Sports asked him about Mikel's statement, Shittu pleaded the fifth.
However, the FIFA-licensed agent revealed he is still close with the former Chelsea man, who is now a free agent.
"I'm like a father to most of them, so yeah, me and John are good, he's still my son," Shittu told Pulse Sports.
Shittu reveals why talented youngsters fail
Shittu also represented some players of the famous Nigeria U20 class of 2005 and even brought players like Emmanuel Sarki to Chelsea.
But while Shittu has an eye for spotting talents, he told Pulse Sports it is not as easy as it looks, as not many of the players go on to play at the top level.
"You know the thing about discovering talents, and which sometimes I always go back to John Mikel Obi, Shittu said.
"Ordinarily, when people see players on the street at that age, they always say he's good at this position.
"But out there, there are so many professionals in the scouting industry, and you see the player you see today at the age of 13 or 14 that you think that this or Messi going to be the next Ronaldo or Messi of this world.
"As he grows, anything can happen. It could even be the character of that person.
Shittu revealed he had seen similar cases like that with Nigerian players.
"We have had so many like that in Nigeria that were so good, but their attitude and character did not get them anywhere and likewise all over the world.
"There are so many Messis and Ronaldos that were discovered, but it was only those two that were able to make it to the top.
No exceptional talent in Nigeria- Shittu
Shittu insists he has not seen a talent like that in Nigeria, even criticising the level of players in the current Super Eagles squad.
"For me, it's the trajectory problem, and I have not yet seen that player with the right attitude and the level of discipline that could be the next big thing.
I just mentioned about the players in Nigerian players. Yes, they have some decent players. Nothing for me at the moment is so excellent, Shittu said.