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Chelsea

Mikel on kidnap reports, snubbing Man Utd & being asked by Mourinho to replace Makelele at Chelsea

16:39 GMT+3 04/10/2022
John Obi Mikel Chelsea
John Obi Mikel has looked back on a career that saw him generate kidnap headlines, snub Manchester United and follow an icon at Chelsea.
  • Joined Chelsea in 2006
  • Previously agreed deal with Man Utd
  • Has now hung up his boots

WHAT HAPPENED? The former Nigeria international has, at 35 years of age, announced his retirement and will be hanging up his professional boots. He achieved plenty over the course of 17 years at the top that saw him leave Norway for England before going on to spend time in China, Turkey and Kuwait.

WHAT THEY SAID: Mikel has told BBC Sport Africa of his much-publicised decision to rip up an agreement with Premier League giants United in 2006 and head for west London instead: "I don't regret any decision I made because I enjoyed everything I achieved at Chelsea - it's the best decision I have ever made in my life. I signed a pre-contract for Manchester United when I was 17. If you are a kid and you see Sir Alex Ferguson right in front of you with the contract, of course you will be tempted.

"I acted as a young kid and as soon as Chelsea heard the news, they came and got me out of Norway. That's when people started saying that I was kidnapped. It wasn't a great moment for me then. I just wanted to play football because I was so young."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Mikel went on to enjoy 11 memorable years with Chelsea – claiming two Premier League titles, three FA Cups, the Europa League and a Champions League crown – but admits that he was charged with the toughest of tasks when asked to succeed Makelele at Stamford Bridge.

He added: "[Jose] Mourinho decided that he wanted me to play the defensive midfield position. At the end of the day, he is the coach and made the decision. We discussed and he felt that because of the big midfield players he had in his squad at Chelsea that I should play the defensive midfield role. [Claude] Makelele was just finishing his career at Chelsea, so Mourinho wanted me to take over from Makelele."

IN THREE PHOTOS:

WHAT NEXT? Mikel can now focus on life away from the field as he brings the curtain down on a distinguished playing career. However, he has hinted that he could remain in football, saying: "This is not goodbye, it’s the start of another journey, another chapter of my life."