Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel has called it quits with the national team after he won bronze medal at African Cup of Nations AFCON 2019, which will end this weekend in Egypt.
The 32-year-old midfielder has served Nigeria as a full international for over 13 years after he made his debut for Eagles on August 17, 2005 in a friendly against Libya as a second half substitute in a game Eagles won 1-0 before he went on to feature at AFCON 2006 in Egypt .
Coincidentally, “The Catalyst” as the Jos-born star player is nicknamed, made his AFCON debut at Egypt 2006, when he won bronze with Nigeria and ended his international career 13 years after at same competition AFCON 2019 in Egypt where he equally won Bronze medal as the team captain.
Since then, the former Chelsea Legend as never looked back as he has been a phenomenon in the middle of the park for Nigeria, though some fans have been critical of his style of play, but he deserve praise to have diligently served Nigeria for almost 14 years at different capacities.
The Trabzonspor of Turkey newly acquired midfielder started as a U17 star under coach Austin Eguavoen at Finland 2003, where the team were unlucky to have exited at the group stage.
However, the talent of Mikel didn’t go unnoticed as Chelsea and Manchester United fought for his signature which led him to be out of the game for several months.
Coach Samson Siasia then saw the qualities in Mikel and took him to FIFA U20 World Cup, where he shone like a billion stars to be named by FIFA as second best player behind the great Lionel Messi.
Apart from doing his best on the pitch for Eagles, the midfielder is a leader, role model on and off the pitch as he came to the rescue of the team financially in Atlanta when the team were preparing for 2016 Olympics where they won a bronze medal.
Many younger players who got into eagles said good thing about his person as he made them comfortable on their debut with the recent example being Samuel Chukwueze.
Mikel is a legend and the most decorated Nigeria player ever with 89 full international caps, he deserve respect from Nigerians for being a good servant to the nation by making a lot of Nigerians no matter the ethnicity and religion believe.
He has played in five AFCONs, in 2006, 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2019, winning bronze medals in 2006, 2010 and 2019 with Gold in 2013.
He won FIFA U20 World Cup Silver and Olympic Football event Bronze medal in 2016.
Mikel has some individual medals to his name, namely FIFA U20 2005 Silver ball as second best player at the tournament, African young player of the year award in 2005 and 2006 and he was Chelsea young player of the year in 2007 and 2008.
The Catalyst has done well for Nigeria.
This is wishing him all the best at his new club and beyond.