Middlesbrough attacker Britt Assombalonga has praised by teammate John Obi Mikel by describing him as an ‘uncle’ with awesome and incredible qualities.
The 31-year-old has established his presence in Tony Pulis’ team with imperious performances in the midfield since his arrival as a free agent in January.
His displays earned him a special song from the fans and Assombalonga, Boro’s leading top scorer with 10 goals this season, has lauded the Super Eagles midfielder for his exemplary role.
“Uncle - I call him Uncle - is a real rock in midfield,” Assombalonga told Teesside Live.
“You can just see the pure quality he brings to the pitch in midfield in every game.
“When you have that quality and experience on the pitch you always have an extra edge and an advantage.
“He lets the other boys in midfield go out and express themselves.”
Mikel has made 11 appearances for the Riverside Stadium outfit so far including an appearance in the FA Cup though with a record of three wins, five losses and three draws.
However, the DR Congo international is raving about the playing style of the former Chelsea midfielder.
“He is incredible. He drags players towards him and that creates time and space somewhere else and then he gets the ball, keeps the ball and threads it into those empty space for someone to pick up and use,” he continued.
“You can give him the ball even when he has players on him and he always gets out of sticky situations and finds space.
“You can give him the ball absolutely anywhere on the pitch and he will manoeuvre and find a space or an angle and find a way to give it to someone else in a better position. He’s awesome.”
Mikel joined the Championship side as a previous winner of the Uefa Champion League, the English Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup before leaving for Chinese Super League side Tianjin Teda in 2017.
And his presence and authority in Tony Pulis' team are of importance to the rest of the squad.
“It is really good for the boys to have someone with his medals and what he has achieved around the changing room,” he added.
“He really has been there and done it all so he has that authority. When he talks, you listen.
“And he is a nice guy to have around. He’s so funny and down to earth.”