OBI, Mikel John

Mikel John Obi (full names: John Michael Nchekwube Obinna) is a Professional Footballer (Position: Defensive Midfield) who plays for the Nigerian National Team, Super Eagles and for Chinese club, Tianjin TEDA in the Chinese Super League. Mikel started his football career at the age of 12 with the prestigious Pepsi Football Academy. At 15, he was selected to play with a local Nigerian Club, Plateau United. Following this debut, he was invited by the Nigerian Football Association (NFA) to join the team representing Nigeria at the 2003 FIFA Under-17 World Championships in Finland. Prior to the tournament, the NFA mistakenly submitted his name as "Mikel" instead of "Michael". In various interviews, Mikel had mentioned he kept the name because he liked "the special ring" to it. During the tournament, he made a wave of headlines and immediately after the tournament, he went on to a trial at South Africa club Ajax Cape Town. Mikel was later picked up by Lyn Oslo, a Norwegian football Club. In 2005, he represented Nigeria at the FIFA World Youth Championships held in Netherlands. It was during this tournament that Mikel won the Silver ball after been voted as the second-best player, just behind Lionel Messi who won the Golden ball. In April 2005, Manchester United made an announcement claiming they has struck a deal with the Lyn Oslo Player. This claim sparked a transfer row which involved Mikel's club Lyn Oslo, his agent, John Ola Shittu, Chelsea and Manchester United. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) got involved after some counter-claims were made and an agreement amongst all the involved parties was later reached allowing Mikel sign for Chelsea at £16million in June 2006. On July 31 2006, he stated that he prefers to be called Mikel John Obi instead of John Obi Mikel, as he had most commonly been called. In August 2005, Mikel made his debut for Nigeria’s senior team when he came on as a second-half substitute in a 1-0 friendly win over Libya. He did not play for the national team again prior to being named in the squad for the 2006 African Cup of Nations. He made his first international start in Nigeria’s final group game, a 2-1 victory over Senegal. On 12 September 2006, Mikel made his first start for Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League against Levski Sofia, earning many positive comments for his performance in the game. Mikel scored his first goal for Chelsea in their 6-1 FA Cup victory over Macclesfield Town on January 6, 2007. Mikel went on to play in over 350 games for the club scoring 7 goals in the process. In 2007, Mikel was suspended from all Nigerian national teams after manager, Berti Vogts, dropped Mikel from the team's squad for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Niger for failing to attend their previous match against Uganda. Mikel cited an injury, but because he did not attend an independent check by Nigerian officials, he was dropped. This, and his refusal to play for the Nigerian under-23 side, resulted in his suspension by the Nigerian Football Association. After apologising, he was called up to the national squad for the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana. At the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, Mikel was a key player for Nigeria as they went on to win their fifth continental title. He was named by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in the team of the tournament. Mikel made his FIFA World Cup debut during the 2014 tournament in Brazil, earning him a man of the match award in the Super Eagles' opening game against Iran and helping the team to reach the knockout stage for the first time since 1998. Mikel was selected by Nigeria for their 35-man provisional squad for the 2016 Summer Olympics. He was later named captain of the Olympics squad. On August 13, 2016, Mikel scored his first ever Olympic goal in a 2–0 win against Denmark to advance to the semi-final. After the 2–0 defeat to Germany, Nigeria went on to the bronze medal match against Honduras and on August 20, 2016, Mikel helped Nigeria to the bronze medal in a 3–2 victory over Honduras. Nigeria became the first ever country to win all three medals at the Olympics Games with the 1996 squad winning the gold and 2008 squad winning the silver. On November 4, 2016, Chelsea announced that they would not be renewing his contract when it expired at the end of the season and on January 6, 2017, Mikel was signed by free transfer by Chinese club Tianjin TEDA. In a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification match against Algeria, Mikel scored a goal and assisted his teammate, Victor Moses in a 3-1 victory. Mikel has now played for Nigeria's national team over 80 times.
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