Remember John Obi Mikel? Yes, the Nigerian midfielder who was a polarizing figure at Chelsea for almost a decade. The midfielder had a very dramatic introduction to English football because of the controversy surrounding his move to Stamford Bridge.
In 2005, Manchester United announced that they had struck a deal with Norwegian club Lyn for the transfer of Obi Mikel. The Red Devils stated that they had agreed on a deal directly with the player, not his representatives, who were ignored before the agreement was struck.
In fact, a post was even made on United’s official website that announced to the fans the acquisition of an exciting new young player. The deal was reportedly struck to be completed on January 2006, when Obi Mikel was poised to arrive at Old Trafford for a £4m deal.
However, Chelsea would then come on with a major twist. They claimed about having struck an agreement with Mikel and his agents, something Lyn denied. Chelsea had reportedly organized the move to bring him from Nigeria to Europe before he won over Jose Mourinho while training with the Chelsea squad in 2004.
United even arranged a press conference for Mikel in which he voiced his delight to join them. After returning to Norway, the midfielder went under the radar and sparked a claim that he was ‘kidnapped’. After a lengthy investigation, the three clubs to a mutual in which Chelsea won the battle to sign him – only after agreeing to pay £12m to the Red Devils for the transfer.
Mikel had a topsy-turvy career at Chelsea, only scoring 1 goal in nine Premier League seasons. However, he was versatile and proved himself a solid squad player that won all major trophies with the Blues. After leaving Chelsea in 2017, Obi’s career started going down and he retired in 2021.
After being under the radar for a few years, the Nigerian midfielder has suddenly popped out of nowhere to become viral on social media. Obi Mikel recently gave an interview with Dubai Eye – the city he resides in now.
In the interview, he spoke about various topics including his time at Chelsea, his teammates and more. He claimed that Jose Mourinho once made Mo Salah cry at Chelsea and that Eden Hazard is the laziest footballer he’s ever seen.
His comments on Hazard might seem disrespectful at first, but he was actually praising the Belgian and said: “Everybody wants to be in the starting XI come the weekend and there is no place for you to be like ‘I don’t want to train today’. The only player I saw do that and get away with it was Eden Hazard,
“He never trained. The worst. The laziest footballer I have ever seen in my life. But then come the weekend he produces and was man of the match. He comes in then and was like ‘come on guys you see’.”
But John Obi-Mikel has not become popular on social media because of the depth of his interview, but something else altogether. Some fans have been left stunned by his accent, which is nothing like any average African’s when speaking English.
In fact, Mikel appears to have a fluent British accent and seems to speak almost as if he was born in England. His tone and accent have bamboozled some fans, but there is a very simple explanation.
The Nigerian midfielder spent the majority of his football career in England and most of his 20s at Chelsea. African fans have been quick to defend those criticizing his accent, pointing out the plain obvious over why he developed it and why it’s only natural.
Mikel is currently the Global Brand Ambassador for the RIF Trust, a leading international residency and citizenship by investment firm. He currently resides in Dubai and works with the organization there, and his powerful English accent can only be a good thing in his current job.