Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel will go down in history as one of the greatest players Nigeria has ever produced. The 32-year-old announced his retirement from the international football on 18 July 2019.
In 2003, Mikel experienced several transitions in his life; this is the time he made his junior international debut for the Super Eagles and this is also the time his name was changed.
The former Chelsea star was born on 22 April 1987 in Jos Nigeria. His father is known as Michael Obi. He was born as John Michael Nchekwube Obinna; “Nchekwube” means “hope” and “Obinna” (meaning “Father’s heart”).
During preparations for the 2003 FIFA Under-17 World Championships, the Nigerian Football Association (NFA) mistakenly submitted “Michael” as “Mikel” for the tournament in Finland.
He decided to keep the new name, saying that it had a “special ring to it.” On 31 July 2006, he stated that he prefers to be called Mikel John Obi instead of John Obi Mikel, as he had most commonly been called.
He made his senior debut in 2006 and has played for the Super Eagles as a defensive midfielder, appearing 194 times and scoring 7 goals. And on Thursday, a day after helping Nigeria win the bronze in the 2019 AFCON, Mikel decided to hang up his boots.
On his verified Instagram page, Mike Obi said, at the age of 32, it was time for him to bow out of the team and let the young ones take over.
Sharing a photo of himself in the national jersey, Mikel Obi wrote, “Egypt is a country where I’ve started and have finished my national career.
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Egypt is a country where I’ve started and have finished my National career. In 2006 I played my first official championship for my Country. 2019 African Cup of Nations marks my last championship for National Team with Super Eagles. My national career started in 2003 under 17 World Cup and I’m grateful for the national team for placing me on the world arena and giving me an opportunity to show my skill and have an incredible National and International career. At the age of 32 it’s time for me to retire from the National team and let the youth take over, who’ve done an amazing job securing a bronze medal at AFCON 2019. Thank you to all my Nigerian supporters and to my Country for all the trust, support and love you’ve shown me over the past 15 years. Mikel am out!
The 32-year-old has played for Lyn, Chelsea, Tianjin TEDA, Middlesbrough, and Trabzonspor.