John Obi Mikel’s transfer to Chelsea, via his non move to Manchester United, is one of the great mysteries of modern football and finally the Nigeria midfielder has explained it all.
In 2005 John Obi Mikel was a little known Nigerian footballer plying his trade in Norway for Lyn. Soon though he became the biggest story in English football without even playing a game in the country.
Matters were confused when Chelsea claimed they had an agreement with the player and then the player went missing and there were other claims of him being forced to sign a deal with United and all sorts of other shenanigans.
Eventually the transfer was all settled by Chelsea agreeing to pay United £12 million to sign the player and a further £4 million to Lyn, the Red Devils made a pretty decent profit for a player who never played for them.
No one has ever been sure what happened or why Mikel changed his mind to sign for the Blues but talking to the Players Tribune he’s finally explained it, saying:
“I chose Chelsea, and four lives changed that day.”
Mikel further explained the complications adding, “Well, my Dad wasn’t too pleased about what happened either. He wanted me to go to Manchester United because he loved Alex Ferguson. Back home in Nigeria, a lot of people were saying I should go to United because of how well they work with young players, whereas Chelsea just bought superstars.
“And it’s true, I was only 18 years old and Chelsea had players like Lampard, Ballack and Makélélé in midfield. A lot of people in Nigeria doubted that I could even make the Chelsea team if I went there.
“I’ll tell you what happened. I had all these people on both sides fighting over me. Agents, managers, strangers, guys handing me papers. I had Sir Alex Ferguson calling me on the phone on one side. And I had Roman Abramovich on the other side, putting me up in London, hiding me somewhere where only a few people knew where I was. It was really confusing, and I was a kid, you know?“
It’s one of the great intrigues of recent years and it’s a bloody good job the Players Tribunehas finally answered the question of why Mikel chose Stamford Bridge, it wasn’t a bad choice.