After months of rumours, it is now official that Super Eagles Captain, John Obi Mikel has joined Tianjin TEDA FC of the Chinese Super League from Chelsea.
The 29 year old who spent 10 years in West London saw his chances snuffed out with Antonio Conte as manager since returning from Brazil with a bronze medal won leading the Nigerian U-23 team in the Olympics. He failed to feature for the Italian. Not even a second.
After a tussle with Manchester United, Mikel joined Chelsea from Lyn Oslo of Norway but failed to live up to the expectation of finishing second best to Lionel Messi in the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup. While Messi is on every lips across the galaxy, Mikel’s name echos only at Stamford Bridge. The conversion from attacking to defensive midfielder took the shine off the Jos-born Nigerian.
Irrespective of how things have played out, Mikel Obi leaves Chelsea with at least a medal from every major tournament: Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup, Champions League, Europa Cup, Community Shield etc. – 11 trophies from 374 appearances.
A new challenge is before him – the Chinese League. While some of us may have wished he remained in the competitive streams of Europe, it won’t be too bad to have a share of the Chinese windfall. His pay looks small though compared others. A lot of stars, although retiring, are in China already. A few had a feel before jetting out like Didier Drogba and Yakubu Aiyegbeni.
How this move affects his invite to feature for the Super Eagles is left for Coach Rohr to decide. Afterall, Mikel is still the Captain. We are watching. We are hopeful. Time to learn Chinese.
Goodbye Obi. Welcome Obi.