Super Eagles captain Mikel Obi has for the first publicly admitted that he gave up his Chelsea career to represent Nigeria at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Mikel led Nigeria’s U23 team to the Olympic Games where they got their hands on the bronze medal but never played again for Chelsea when he returned.
In a recent interview on the Super Eagles Youtube channel, the 32-year-old revealed that he advised Victor Moses to stay back at Chelsea to fight for a shirt while he went to Brazil with Nigeria’s U23 for the Olympic Games.
“When the opportunity came out to either to go to Rio or play for Chelsea, I told Victor Moses because it was both of us, I was older, he is younger, he hasn’t played yet for the club, I said ‘you stay back, I will go, if I lose my place it’s fine’,” Mikel said in the interview.
“Victor Did, he stayed, I went, I came back, the managers never spoke to me again, didn’t put me in the team, then I said ‘okay fine’ and I left.”
“It’s the commitment and love that I have for my country,” he added.
Mikel’s revelation comes after he once denied being ignored by Antonio Conte because he played at the 2016 Olympic Games.
The denial came after Super Eagles boss Gernot Rohr first hinted that the midfielder was being punished by Conte for choosing his country over the club.
"There is a reason why Mikel is not playing for Chelsea right now and that reason is that he played for Nigeria at the Olympics," Rohr once said in an interview.
Mikel quickly released a statement to deny Rohr’s statement and even blamed the Nigerian press for misinterpreting Rohr’s words.
“To be absolutely clear, Mr Conte and Chelsea were always supportive of my captaincy of the Nigerian team at Rio,” Mikel stressed in the statement.
A Pulse Sports report citing quotes from a source and former Chelsea player Emmanuel Sarki however confirmed that Mikel was treated unfairly by Conte when he returned from the Olympics.