Former Chelsea star John Mikel Obi has hit out at the way Trabzonspor handled the situation that got him out of the club.
Mikel is currently without a club after Trabzonspor terminated his contract following his refusal to play due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The 32-year-old had lashed out at the decision to continue with the Turkish top-flight amidst the epidemic. The pandemic has killed over 8,000 people and has put sporting events on hold.
Many European Leagues are currently on suspension, while the Champions League and Europa League have also been postponed.
But the Super Lig is still on despite the outbreak. The Turkish top division is one of the few leagues that are currently on, but it did not sit well with Mikel.
The former Nigeria international expressed his discomfort in an Instagram post and was not in action for Trabzonspor in the Karadeniz Fırtınası’s draw against Istanbul Basaksehi on Sunday.
It led to his dismissal, but Mikel was not happy with the way Trabzonspor handled the situation. Trabzonspor currently leads the Super Lig table-albeit on goals difference, but Mikel insists Family is more important.
In an interview with The Athletic, Mikel shared details of what really happened and why he’s never going back.
“They were really upset about the whole thing. I was told to meet with the president in his office one-on-one. He asked me to take it down (the post). I told him I wasn’t going to do that. It’s my opinion. This is how I feel. We live in a free world. I have freedom of speech. I can express my opinion.
“I wanted to win the league too, but at this point in time, we have to think about what is more important: to save peoples’ lives.
“I want to help in any way that I can to defeat this virus. For us to be out there playing; I don’t think we are helping the global situation. I don’t feel it is right for us to play football.
“UEFA have postponed football. How come they are still playing in Turkey? It’s not right at all. But Trabzonspor were not having it — for me, they don’t care.
“I told them I wanted to go home. They said, ‘If you go home, you’re not coming back.’ I said, ‘OK, I’m going home.’
“I explained to the club that I needed to see and be with my kids. They were calling me every single morning, crying on the phone, wondering why their friends were not coming over for playdates, why they can’t touch anyone on the street. I didn’t feel happy every morning lying to my kids, making up stories to explain why in order to try not to make them panic (about COVID-19).
“I knew if I came home, they’d be relaxed because they’d then know daddy was home. I told the club, ‘OK, if that’s what you’re saying, I’m ready to give up my contract. To be with my family, to help the world to do the right thing — everybody needs to stay at home at this point in time’.
“I have taken a financial hit by taking this stance. It is worth every single penny, I’m telling you. To see my kids happy and fine, to know we will survive this together; the only way we can beat this is by being at home with your family, taking care of your family, your neighbour.
“I was doing so well, playing every week. The team was winning, top of the league. We were playing well. I was enjoying my football out there. We had a chance to win the league, but I gave that all up to do the right thing.”
When asked if he will be going back to Trabzonspor, Mikel said: “Go back to Trabzonspor? No chance,” he says. “Not with the way they have dealt with this situation.
“We have to look at ourselves sometimes in life and ask what is more important? Who do I want to be friends with? When I’m in trouble, who is going to look after me? And, the way they have dealt with this, I don’t see myself going back to Trabzonspor again.