There is more for Mikel to achieve, he might also forget all that and continue being a mascot at Chelsea
Over ten years ago the news that two biggest clubs in England-Manchester United and Chelsea-were fighting over of a young Nigerian midfielder spread like harmattan fire. Our hopes soared, thinking that Nigeria has finally gotten their midfield magician to replace the then ageing Austin Jay Jay Okocha.
After a fierce battle between two clubs, Chelsea finally landed John Mikel Obi and the stage was set for the then Nigeria's brightest talent to set world football on fire. His performance at the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Netherlands where Nigeria finished second to a Lionel Messi led Argentina added more fire to the hype that Mikel was about to become our star man.
Then reality dawned. Signing for Chelsea that had one of the best players of that time Frank Lampard playing in the No. 10 position meant that Mikel had to settle as a defensive midfielder. Jose Mourinho also saw the young Nigerian midfielder as a DM, moulding him into that static, tackling and deep laying midfielder that Nigerians never saw in him.
Years passed by and Mikel became a big part of the most successful era in Chelsea history winning the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Europa League, two English Premier League titles, four English FA Cup trophies, two League Cup honours and one Community Shield. No Nigerian player aside Kanu Nwankwo- has won more medals than the Jos-born footballer.
But now, it is time for Mikel Obi to leave Chelsea.
Mikel's move to the defensive side of the midfielder meant that he never fulfilled the potentials the world saw in him when he was only second to Messi in the U-20 World Cup in 2005. Though he excelled for some time in that position-his finest performance to date for the club came in the 2012 UEFA Champions League final, against Bayern Munich, the greatest night in Chelsea's history-Mikel has lost ground and is nothing but a mascot in Stamford Bridge.
He has spent ten years in the club but the manner in which he is being ignored by Mourinho has been nothing but disrespectful.
But maybe Mikel is the one disrespecting himself.
Why is he still at Chelsea? What is his motivation these days?
These are questions that run through my mind anytime I watch Chelsea games and see him comfortably seated on the bench, smiling like he enjoys his new position as a club mascot. He is just 28 years, and at that age, no serious minded professional football player will be happy sitting on the bench week in week out.
His constant ignoring of national team duties also attest to the fact that Mikel doesn't just want to play football anymore, so staying at Chelsea and receiving his weekly pay is a welcome leisure to him.
But that's a shame really, because at 28, Mikel can still achieve more in football. He has won virtually everything in club football and everything possible with the Super Eagles (the FIFA World Cup is not possible)- The 2013 African Nations Cup- so Mikel can leave Chelsea to any club he wants and play without pressure and enjoy football again.
Besiktas of Turkey are now interested in the midfielder and Mikel should take up that offer. That is the oldest team in Turkey and the hunger for more trophies at another club can also be another motivation for the 28-year-old to make a name for himself.
There is more for Mikel to achieve, he might also forget all that and continue being a mascot at Chelsea.
Watch this video of John Mikel Obi, below: