The former Nigeria international enjoyed a successful decade-long spell at Stamford Bridge, but he left London shortly after helping Nigeria win a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics
Former Super Eagles captain John Obi Mikel has disclosed that the guidance of ex-teammate Didier Drogba played a pivotal role in his decision to part ways with Chelsea, Soccernet.ng reports.
Mikel’s departure from the London club stemmed from a fallout with then-manager Antonio Conte following his decision to represent Nigeria at the Olympics.
The former Nigerian international played a crucial role as the Olympic Eagles secured a memorable bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Upon his return to Stamford Bridge, Conte sidelined the Nigerian midfielder.
When Chelsea faced a rough patch, Conte sought to reconcile with Mikel and reintegrate him into the team.
In a decisive moment, Mikel declined the offer, stating, “I have already made up my mind I wanted to go anyway,” during an interview on the Vibe with Five podcast.
Mikel sought counsel from Chelsea legend Didier Drogba, who advised him to seize the opportunity for a fresh start, saying, “Once it starts happening like this, find your way. Just go. Try something new.”
After 11 years at Stamford Bridge, Mikel Obi left Chelsea to join Chinese club Tianjin TEDA in 2017. Subsequently, he played for Middlesbrough, Trabzonspor, Stoke City, and Kuwait SC before retiring two years ago.
During his time at Chelsea, Mikel achieved significant success, winning the UEFA Champions League in the 2011/12 season and the UEFA Europa League in the 2012/13 season.
On the international stage, he led Nigeria to victory in the 2013 AFCON and secured third place in the 2006, 2010, and 2019 editions.
Mikel’s illustrious international career spanned 91 appearances and included six goals for the Super Eagles from 2005 to 2019.