Mikel’s agent Shittu claims Nigeria lacks excellent players due to bad attitude & poor character

John Obi Mikel of ChelseaGEOFF CADDICK/AFP/Getty Images

Football agent John Shittu, who represents former Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel, has claimed that there is no exceptional football talent in Nigeria.

Nigeria is home to some of the top footballers in Africa such as five-time African Player of the Year and 2022 Ballon d’Or nominee Asisat Oshoala of Barcelona, Napoli striker Victor Osimhen, his Nottingham Forest counterparts Taiwo Awoniyi and Emmanuel Dennis as well as Leicester City midfielder Wilfred Ndidi, to name but a few.

However, Shittu feels while Nigeria produces good players at a young age, they lose their way before hitting the heights that would make them world-class due to a number of factors such as a bad attitude or poor character.

"You know the thing about discovering talents, and which sometimes I always go back to John Mikel Obi,” Shittu told Pulse Sports Nigeria.

"Ordinarily, when people see players on the street at that age, they always say he's good at this position. But out there, there are so many professionals in the scouting industry, and you see the player you see today at the age of 13 or 14 that you think that this is going to be the next [Cristiano] Ronaldo or [Lionel] Messi of this world.

"As he grows, anything can happen. It could even be the character of that person. We have had so many like that in Nigeria that were so good, but their attitude and character did not get them anywhere and likewise all over the world.

"For me, it's the trajectory problem, and I have not yet seen that player [in Nigeria] with the right attitude and the level of discipline that could be the next big thing.

“I just mentioned about the Nigerian players. Yes, they have some decent players. Nothing for me at the moment is so excellent.”

Shittu was involved in the now infamous transfer of Mikel from Norwegian club Lyn Oslo to Manchester United in 2006 before signing for Chelsea a few days later, eliciting controversy between the two clubs that saw the dispute solved by Fifa.

Chelsea eventually won the battle with Mikel, spending nine years at Stamford Bridge, winning two Premier League titles, three FA Cups and the Uefa Champions League before moving to Chinese side Tianjin TEDA in January 2017.

After two years in China, he played briefly for Championship sides Middlesbrough and Stoke City, with a spell at Turkish Super Lig club Trabzonspor in between, before signing for Kuwait SC in July 2021 which he left after five months.

"I'm like a father to most of them, so yeah, me and John are good, he's still my son,” Shittu said of his relationship with Mikel.

Nigeria's football talent

Do you agree with football agent John Shittu that Nigeria lacks excellent players?