Former Super Eagles captain Mikel Obi may have pursued petro-dollars in the Gulf for his last pay day, but there’s a lot more to be accomplished by the former Lyn Oslo midfielder, IKENWA NNABUOGOR reckons…
Mikel Obi has left English football to grace the Gulf for the first time as the clock runs down on his illustrious career that saw him become a double king in Europe with the medals of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League firmly dangling round his neck.
Kuwait finally won the battle for the “golden” signature of the former Golden Eaglets’ star as he penned a year’s contract with an option of extension at Kuwaiti Viva Premier multiple champions, Kuwait Sports Club.
The deal which is worth $ 4 Million is currently the highest paid to any player in the oil-rich kingdom, though, Kuwait have yet to attract the best “retiring” legs, just like their neighbours, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE.
Kuwait trails the more illustrious UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and even Oman – in that order, and the arrival of Mikel may signal of beginning of arrival of more celebrated “retired” legs to the Arab nation.
The higher-ups at Kuwait SC are furious that less fancied Al-Nassar denied them a record-equalling 17th league title this past season and hence the urgent need to fortify their side to break even with Al-Qadsia and Al-Arabi, who have 17 league titles apiece in their cabinets.
This is the first time Mikel is tasting Gulf football and it’s coming at the right age, the ripe age of 34 as he’s enjoying the final laps of his super illustrious career that also saw him crowned African champion and an impressive 97 caps for his country.
Mikel is indeed winding up on his career in Kuwait, but not with a huge responsibility that will need him working off his socks to justify his $4 Million in a year price tag.
His presence in the Viva Premier League may have triggered a renewed request for more established players into the top flight in Kuwait but winning the league title at the end of the season may completely spark an unprecedented influx of more retiring established players.
He may have been impressed with what he saw of the 16-time Kuwaiti Premier League champions to entice him to cancel his contract with English side Stoke City, with a year left on his contract and it will be seen if his romance with his new bride will stand a test of time.
Mikel got nothing to lose, he’s done this, done that, and agreeing to come to Kuwait could be seen as putting Kuwait Sports Club and the whole of Viva Premier League on the shop window to attract more players of Mikel’s standing and achievements.
But could he also have attracted interests from more illustrious leagues of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE and turned them down and settled for Kuwait?
Why did he choose to play in Kuwait of all places with no known established player of his quality?
Why would he reject Stoke City despite his super showing this past season and assurances of continuity by the Stoke coaching staff?
Could Mikel have sacrificed Stoke City for Kuwait Sports Club because of money?
While all these posers continue to beg for answers, one thing is clear, Mikel’s bank balances are still looking good with his long association with Chelsea, and stints in China and Turkey may have quashed any concerns that he was lured by cash to Kuwait.
Any way you look at it, Mikel’s blessings are direct from God and he’s lived up to it since the world began to take note of him as a cadet player.
This may turn out to be a great union between the Kuwaiti club and Mikel as the money, bragging rights and confidence are all Mikel’s to blossom in his Gulf base.
Former Rangers’ captain, James Okwuosa and former Partizan Belgrade striker Theophilus Solomon at rivals, Al-Qadsia and little known Nigerian striker, who scored six times for defending champions, Al-Nasar last season, Dennis Sisoga, as well as Kazma striker Goodness Ajayi, are Mikel’s compatriots in his new base.
Welcome to Kuwait, Mikel!