Nigerian midfielder John Obi Mikel’s last-minute snub to Manchester United in order to join Chelsea is one of the most popular transfer stories in English football history and now the Super Eagles man has revealed why he did so.
United were scheduled to sign Mikel from Lyn in 2006 with the deal agreed between all the parties and the midfielder was also seen wearing a Manchester United shirt.
But they suddenly out of nowhere, Chelsea leapfrogged their Premier League rivals and signed the then 18-year-old.
Writing for the Players’ Tribune, John Obi Mikel has revealed what had actually transpired.
“I had all these people on both sides fighting over me. Agents, managers, strangers, guys handing me papers,” Mikel said.
“I had Sir Alex Ferguson calling me on the phone on one side. And I had Roman Abramovich on the other side, putting me up in London.
“It was really confusing and I was a kid, you know?
“After a while, someone from FIFA gave me a phone call. They said, “Listen, we know you’re young and you have these two clubs fighting over you. We can’t decide for you. You can only go where you want. You have to tell us.
“It was the biggest decision of my life. You know what made my mind up? Chelsea had signed three other players from Nigeria along with me.
“These guys… their lives depended on the decision I was making. If I went to United, they were gone. If I went to Chelsea, they were going to have a career.
“No matter how long it lasted, that was important to me. Just to give them a chance, you know? I chose Chelsea, and four lives changed that day.”
Chelsea had to pay £12 million in the form of competition to Manchester United but Mikel then went onto play for the Stamford Bridge for 10 seasons – making 374 appearances.
In January of 2017, John Obi Mikel moved to Chinese side Tianjin TEDA and the midfielder is currently playing for Nigeria in the 2018 World Cup.
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