25 Facts About Nigerian Midfielder, Mikel Obi’s Career
1. John Obi Mikel is a two-time Premier League winner, having clinched the title in both 2010 and 2015.
2. In fact, only three African players—Didier Drogba, Riyad Mahrez and Yaya Toure—have won more Prem titles than Mikel.
3. He was also a European champion with the Blues in 2012, playing his part in their final triumph against Bayern Munich. This put him in elevated status with only a handful of Nigerian players—Kanu and Finidi George—who have clinched club football’s grandest prize.
4. Mikel won the Europa League. Only him and Kanu are the Nigerian players to have won both of Europe’s major club competitions.
5. Mikel was named as Africa’s Most Promising Player by CAF in 2005, becoming the second Nigerian after Obafemi Martins to win the award.
6. To date, Mikel is one of only four players—along with Mido, Clifford Mulenga and Salomon Kalou—to have won the Caf Most Promising Talent of the Year award and to have clinched the Africa Cup of Nations title.
7. As a youth player, Mikel represented Plateau United in his homeland. It’s the same alma mater as the likes of Celestine Babayaro who would also go on to play for Chelsea alongside Victor Obinna.
8. Having been selected for the Pepsi Football Academy, he once trialled at South African side Ajax Cape Town before ultimately moving to Norwegians Lyn, ultimately never returning to test himself in the PSL.
9. Another sliding doors moment came when Mikel signed for Manchester United, only to claim that he’d been forced to sign the deal and instead pushed through a move to Chelsea.
10. Mikel was actually born with the name Michael, but a clerical error early in his career established ‘Mikel’ as his given name. He liked the sound, and chose to keep the new spelling, even though it wasn’t his official given name.
11. Mikel’s first and only league goal for Chelsea came against local rivals Fulham in September 2013.
12. This is also a (somewhat unwanted) Premier League record, with no outfield player in the top flight since its inauguration having waited longer than the Nigerian’s 185 appearances before netting their first league goal.
13. Mikel scored three times during his 31 Turkish Super Lig outings with Trabzonspor
14. The midfielder departed Stamford Bridge having contributed 11 assists in the Premier League
15. Mikel became the ninth African player to net in the top flight for the club. The Nigerian was following in the footsteps of the likes of Didier Drogba, Babayaro and Michael Essien.
16. Mikel also found the net in the FA Cup (three times) more often than in the Premier League.
17. Mikel is the only foreign player to have made their 100th Premier League appearance for the Blues before the age of 23 years and 100 days. The other players to have done so are English trio Mason Mount, John Terry and Eddie Newton.
18. In 2015, Mikel became the 21st Chelsea player to make 350 appearances for the club. He achieved this feat when he came on as a substitute in Guus Hiddink’s first match in charge during his second spell with the club.
19. He ended his time at Chelsea with 249 top flight appearances for the Stamford Bridge giants, 27th in the club’s all-time standings. This is more than the likes of Eden Hazard, Willian and Ashley Cole, although he’s behind Didier Drogba, who made 254 league outings for the club.
20. Against Stoke City in February 2011, Mikel registered 108 passes—more than any other player in that Prem season up to that point. The Super Eagle ended that campaign With a pass-success rate of 89.5 percent—behind only Paul Scholes, Johan Djourou and Nigel de Jong.
21. Mikel wrapped up his career in Kuwait, playing two matches for Kuwait SC before parting ways with the club. In total, he turned out for seven senior clubs during his career, including stints in Norway, China and Turkey.
22. Mikel was an Africa Cup of Nations champion under Stephen Keshi in 2013, as Nigeria defeated Burkina Faso in the final. The midfielder was a key pillar in the country’s third Afcon-winning team, following in the footsteps of the legendary generations of 1980 and 1994.
23. During Nigeria’s successful Afcon campaign in South Africa, Mikel completed 247 passes—more than any other player in the tournament.
24. Mikel was named in the Caf Team of the Tournament for his performances in the Rainbow Nation, and was joined in the Afcon Dream Team by his fellow champions Enyeama, Efe Ambrose, Victor Moses and Emmanuel Emenike.
25. Mike’s performance at the 2013 Nations Cup was his fourth appearance at the tournament, having first featured for the Eagles during their run to the semi-finals in 2006.