John Michael Nchekwube Obinna (born 22
April 1987), commonly known as Mikel John Obi,
John Obi Mikel or John Mikel Obi, is a Nigerian
footballer, who plays as a midfielder for English club
Chelsea and the Nigeria national team.
Mikel was born in Jos, Nigeria as John Michael
Nchekwube Obinna, the son of Michael Obi, who
runs an inter-state transport company in Jos, the
capital of Plateau state. As his father was a
member of the Igbo ethnic group, "Nchekwube"
means "hope" and "Obi" is a n!ckname for the Igbo
name "Obinna" (meaning "Father´s heart").
Mikel started his official football career at the age of
12 when p!cked as a talented footballer from over
3000 young talents to play in Pepsi Football
Academy. A team which at that particular time was
well known for going around Nigeria to search for
the best there is from all the upcoming future stars,
young talents to later move on to rather more
professional football. Already then Obi stood out to
all the scouts. He got p!cked to play in a top-flight
team Plateau United also known for making stars
from players like Celestine Babayaro, Victor Obinna,
Chris Obodo and many more which moved on to
playing in European teams and representing their
country later on in their careers. Later known as
John Obi Mikel he was gaining headlines for his
country at the FIFA Under-17 World Championships
held in Finland. Subsequently he went on trial to
South Africa club Ajax Cape Town, before joining
Lyn in Norway.
During preparations for the 2003 FIFA Under-17
World Championships, the Nigerian Football
Association 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.
In the summer of 2005, Mikel played for Nigeria at
the FIFA World Youth Championships held in the
Netherlands. He had an excellent tournament until
Nigeria reached the final, where they lost 2–1 to
Argentina. Obi won the Silver Ball after being voted
the tournament's second best player.
Controversial transfer to England
On 29 April 2005, a few days after Mikel turned 18,
Premier League club Manchester United announced
that it had struck a deal with the Norwegian club
Lyn Oslo to sign the player. United's website also
claimed that they had done a deal directly with the
teenager and that he had signed a contract to join
them. Mikel's agents were bypassed as the club
persuaded the youngster to sign a 4-year contract
without representation. Lyn Oslo allegedly sent a fax
to his agents abroad, claiming their services were no
longer required by Mikel. Reports said the deal was
initially worth £4m, and would see the player
arrive at Old Trafford in January 2006.
Rival Premier League club, Chelsea, later issued a
counter-claim suggesting that they already had an
agreement with Mikel and his agents, but Lyn Oslo
denied this claim. However, subsequent reports
indicated that Chelsea claimed to have been involved
in arranging the player's original move to Europe
with a view to signing him at a later date. Further
substance was added to this claim after it was
revealed that the player had impressed Chelsea
manager José Mourinho while training with the
club's first-team squad during the summer of 2004.
Mikel expressed his delight at joining United in a
hastily arranged press conference, where he was
pictured holding up a Manchester United shirt,
which bore the squad number 21. Following his
signing of the contract to join Manchester United,
there were claims from Norway that he had received
a number of threatening phone calls from unknown
sources. Mikel was assigned a security guard and
moved to a safe hotel. However, on 11 May 2005, the
midfielder went missing during a Norwegian Cup
game against Klemetsrud; he had not been selected
for the match but had been watching from the
stands. Whilst the player was believed to have left
with one of his agents, John Shittu, who had by now
flown in to meet Mikel, his disappearance sparked
massive media coverage in Norway and also
provoked a police enquiry after the Lyn Oslo director
Morgan Andersen made claims in the Norwegian
media that Mikel had been 'kidnapped'. These
claims were later repeated by Manchester United's
assistant manager Carlos Queiroz, who accused
Chelsea of being involved in the alleged 'kidnapping'.
It subsequently emerged that Mikel had travelled to
London with his agent John Shittu, who was
working for Jerome Anderson's SEM group.
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson
considered travelling to Oslo to visit Mikel, but
decided against this after Mikel was reported to
have left the country. Staying in a London hotel,
and some nine days after disappearing, Mikel stated
on Sky Sports News that he had been pressured into
signing the contract with United without his agent
present, claims furiously rebuffed by both
Manchester United and Lyn Oslo. Mikel told the
British media that Chelsea were the club he
genuinely wanted to sign for. In response to these
events, United made an official complaint to FIFA
about the behaviour of both Chelsea and the player's
agents, John Shittu and Rune Hauge, already
infamous for his role in the George Graham bungs
scandal. FIFA dismissed these claims in August
2005 stating there was insufficient evidence to bring
a case against Chelsea.
Following the tournament, Mikel failed to return to
Lyn Oslo, and the club lodged a complaint with
FIFA. On 12 August 2005, FIFA ruled that Mikel
should return to Lyn Oslo to see out his contract
with the Norwegian club, whilst they would decide
at a later date whether the contract he signed with
United should be upheld or cancelled. After a
delay of over a month, Mikel complied with the FIFA
decision and returned to Lyn Oslo in early
September 2005 after a three-month absence.
Rather than leaving FIFA to determine the validity
of the contract signed with Manchester United,
Chelsea intervened by volunteering to settle the
transfer saga through negotiation with Lyn Oslo and
On 2 June 2006, Chelsea, Manchester United and
Lyn Oslo reached a settlement to resolve the future
of the player. Mikel's registration was to be
transferred from Lyn to Chelsea; Manchester United
agreed to terminate their option agreement with
Mikel. Under the terms of this agreement Chelsea
agreed to pay Manchester United £12 million, half
paid upon the finalisation of the contract and the
other half in June 2007, and Lyn £4 million, half
payable immediately and half in June 2007. As a
result of this settlement, all claims in this matter
were withdrawn. On 19 July 2006, Chelsea were
granted a work permit for the midfielder after they
completed the £16 million signing in June 2006.
In the aftermath of the transfer, Morgan Andersen,
who had a previous conviction for forging official
documents, was convicted of fraud and making
false accusations and given a one-year suspended
jail sentence by an Oslo court. The court also
ordered him to pay 20,000 kroner (£1,944) in costs.
 Chelsea made a High Court claim for £16m
against FC Lyn Oslo and Andersen following the
conviction, claiming that the previously agreed
settlement was not binding as "the transfer was
based on a fraudulent misrepresentation, now
proven by a court of law". This claim was
subsequently resolved out of court.
On 12 September 2006, Mikel made his first start
for Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League against
Levski Sofia and took a powerful shot which the
goalkeeper failed to save and Didier Drogba pounced
on the rebound. Mikel received many positive
comments for his performance in the match.
However, since being sent off in a match against
Reading on 14 October 2006, Mikel was fined on
three separate occasions by Chelsea for turning up
late to training.
At the time, Chelsea manager José Mourinho was
believed to have strong reservations about his
lifestyle outside of Stamford Bridge and the club
were reportedly considering offloading the player.
Mikel was dropped for over a month, during which
his father Michael voiced his concerns over his son's
behaviour. After improved punctuality and
showings at training sessions, Mikel earned a recall
for Chelsea's Champions League group away game
against Werder Bremen on 23 November 2006.
Mikel scored his first goal for Chelsea in their 6–1
FA Cup victory over Macclesfield Town on 6 January
2007. He also scored against Nottingham Forest in
the following round of the competition. During
Chelsea's triumph in the League Cup Final in 2007,
Mikel was sent off in injury time (having come on as
a substitute) after clashing with Kolo Touré, the
incident was followed by a huge fracas, in which
Touré and Emmanuel Adebayor of Arsenal were sent
off, Cesc Fàbregas and Frank Lampard were booked
and José Mourinho and Arsené Wenger were
involved in a kerfuffle on the pitch.
In subsequent games, Mourinho deployed Mikel as a
starter in a holding role in key games where he
impressed greatly, notably in the Chelsea versus
Tottenham FA Cup sixth round replay, the
Champions League quarter-final games versus
Valencia, the Champions League semi-final games
versus Liverpool and also the victorious FA Cup
Final against Manchester United. Mikel's height and
great strength, allied to good ball control and an
unusually wide range of passing, allows him not only
to disrupt opposing attacks, but also to spread the
play effectively. Mikel supplanted the French
midfielder Claude Makélélé in the lineup following
his departure to Paris Saint-Germain.
Mikel was sent-off for the third time in his career in
September 2007, when Mike Dean dismissed him
for a tackle on Manchester United defender Patrice
Evra. Chelsea appealed against the red card but the
three-match suspension was upheld.
He was also sent off in the semi-final of the League
Cup against Everton, for a challenge on Phil Neville.
Despite this, he came back strongly to round off
what has been a good first two seasons for him at
The summer of 2008 saw veteran midfielder Claude
Makélélé transferred to French club PSG, leaving the
defensive midfield position vacant. Throughout the
2008/09 season, Mikel saw a great deal of playing
time due to an injury to Michael Essien. During this
period of increased action, Mikel performed
admirably in the role. His ever-improving game was
praised by Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari, and
his importance to the team was underlined when he
provided the free k!ck that Salomon Kalou scored to
equalise against Manchester United. He played so
well in the 2008–09 season that he was nominated
for the club player and young player of the season.
On 24 January 2009, Mikel was charged with drunk
driving, just hours before an FA Cup game against
Ipswich Town – Mikel was not due to play in the
game as he was serving a suspension. Although he
had all that trouble on 22 July, Mikel signed a new
five-year contract with Chelsea.
On 13 February 2010, Mikel provided a long ball for
Didier Drogba to latch onto and fire past goalkeeper
David Marshall as Chelsea beat Cardiff City 4–1 in
the FA Cup Round of 16. Mikel provided another
assist for a Drogba goal in a 5–0 win over FA Cup
finalists and relegated side Portsmouth on 24
March, as Chelsea cut United's lead at the top of the
table to one point. Mikel played the full ninety
minutes in Chelsea's 7–1 smashing of Aston Villa
three days later as Chelsea kept pace in the title race
with Manchester United. In their next Premier
League game against United, Mikel played excellent
as a marshall in midfield as Chelsea climbed above
United in the table with a 2–1 win at Old Trafford,
thanks to goals from Joe Cole and Drogba.
Under new manager Carlo Ancelotti, Mikel
continued to perform with efficiency in his defensive
midfield role as he notched up 32 appearances for
the Blues and in May 2010 received Premier League
 and FA Cup winner's medals as part of
Chelsea's first ever league-cup double winning team.
Mikel and Chelsea started the new Premier League
campaign where they left of the 2009–10 season,
playing strong defense and adding deadly finishing.
Mikel played the full 90 and helped keep three clean-
sheets in the first three games as Chelsea eased past
West Brom 6–0 on 14 August, crushed Wigan
Athletic 6–0 at the DW Stadium seven days later
 and edged past Stoke 2–0 on 28 August.
Mikel was the preferred option in defensive midfield
as teammate Michael Essien spent most of the
season on the sideline with knee injuries. The
injury to the versatile Essien forced the club to play
new signing Ramires more often in the second half
of the season. Mikel featured in 28 Premier League
campaigns for Chelsea as the London side finished in
second place, nine points behind champions
Manchester United. Following the
disappointment of not winning a title, Italian
manager Carlo Ancelotti was sacked by the club.
Before the start of their league campaign, Mikel's
father was abducted in his native Nigeria on 10
August; despite this, Mikel started in the club's
opening fixture against Stoke City at the Britannia.
 Mikel came close to claiming his first Premier
League goal for Chelsea in an inspired game as the
sides played out a 0–0 draw in new coach Andre
Villas-Boas's first game in charge.
Due to Michael Essien's long term knee injury, Mikel
found more playing time, but around Christmas
time he lost his place to Chelsea's new signing Oriol
Romeu. Following a run of disappointing
fixtures including a catastrophic 3–1 loss to Napoli
in the Champions League Round of 16 first leg
and a 1–0 defeat to West Brom, Villas-Boas was
sacked by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. In
both of these matches Mikel was an unused
substitute for The Blues. Following the
appointment of former Chelsea midfielder Roberto
di Matteo, Mikel appeared in 16 of the club's last 20
games and started in 14 of them, and began to play
some of his best football for the club.
Mikel played the full 90 minutes in Chelsea's 2–1
victory over Liverpool in the FA Cup final on 5 May
2012, p!cking up a yellow card in the 36th minute.
 The Premier League campaign saw Mikel
appear in 22 league fixtures, starting 15 of them, as
well as playing in eight fixtures leading up to the
team's appearance in the Champions League final
against Bayern Munich.
In the final in Munich on 19 May, Mikel played the
full 120 minutes as the sides played out a 1–1 draw.
 Chelsea played a tough defensive battle and
Mikel was hailed by Sky Sports pundit Jamie
Redknapp as playing an excellent game putting in "a
performance that I didn't think he had in him; he
was putting out fires everywhere," as Chelsea
claimed a 4–3 victory in the penalty shootout.
Following his performance Mikel told reporters that
it was "best night of our lives." Mikel's strong
performances in the final stages of the season and
his impressive display in Munich helped Chelsea
secure Champions League football next season
despite finishing in sixth place, knocking London
rivals Tottenham Hotspur into the Europa League.
Mikel started all of Chelsea's first five games of the
new Premier League season, and also played in the
Community Shield against Manchester City and
Super Cup against Atlético Madrid. In November,
Mikel was named on the shortlist for the African
Footballer of the Year along with former Chelsea teammate Didier Drogba.
Mikel was charged with misconduct by the Football Association on 22 November 2012. Mikel was given a three-match ban and fined £60,000 by the Football Association for threatening referee Mark Clattenburg during a 3–2 defeat to Manchester
On 5 December 2012, Mikel signed a contract extension with Chelsea, keeping him at the club until
2013–14 Season On 21 September 2013, Mikel scored his first ever Premier League goal in his 185th top-flight appearance to complete a 2–0 win against Fulham.
International career Mikel made his debut for Nigeria's senior team on 17 August 2005, when he came on as a second-half substitute in a 1–0 friendly win over Libya. He did not play for the national team again prior to being named in the squad for the 2006 African Cup of Nations. In Nigeria's first group game, which was against Ghana, Mikel was an unused substitute. However, he was introduced into the second game, against Zimbabwe, early in the second half. Within ten minutes of coming on, he had supplied both the corner that resulted in Christian Obodo heading the game's opening goal, and scored Nigeria's second goal. He made his first international start in Nigeria's final group game, a 2–1 victory over Senegal. During the cup, Mikel said that he had been instructed not to make any public comments about his club career.
FIFA is to investigate claims that Obi had received death threats.
Mikel was suspended from all Nigerian national teams. Berti Vogts, manager of the Nigerian national team, dropped Mikel from the team's squad for the African Nations' Cup qualifier against Niger, for failing to attend their previous match against Uganda. Mikel cited an injury, but because he did not attend an independent check by Nigerian officials, he was dropped. This, and his refusal to play for the Nigerian Under-23 side resulted in his suspension by the NFA. After apologizing, he was called up to the National squad for the African Cup of Nations. During the 2008 African Nations Cup in Ghana, he scored 1 goal and registered one assist, both against Benin Republic, to help Nigeria qualify for the quarterfinals against hosts, Ghana where they narrowly lost 2–1. Mikel had been called up for the Under-23 side in preparation of the team's last olympic qualifier on 26 March 2008, needing a win to qualify. His failure to show up for any of the qualifiers again setting off some controversy with the U-23 team coach Samson Siasia, who dropped him from the Olympic squad amidst significant furor from the media. On 5 June 2010, Mikel was ruled out of the World Cup due to injury. He had been struggling to shake off a knee problem after undergoing surgery in May, though there were also reports that an ankle injury was to blame for Mikel's withdrawal.
He was called up to Nigeria's 23-man squad for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.
He was selected for Nigeria's squad at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup.
So how well do yo know him??