We as a nation should be really proud of our local football players. The latest achievement of the Nigerian national team was the worthy performance at the World Cup 2018. So, who is the most popular footballer in Nigeria and the current role model of our young football fans? You can read his story and learn how he came to becoming the current best player in Nigeria!
Who is the most successful footballer in Nigeria?
Nigeria definitely produced a whole lot of the amazing and talented football players. The question “who is the greatest footballer in Nigeria?” can be answered in many different ways. However, the majority of ratings of the best footballers state that the current most popular and richest football player (net worth $25 million) is none other than the midfielder of the Nigerian national team, John Obi Mikel. He is a household name for those who live and breathe football, and all the fans are eager to see his games and cheer for him.
John Obi Mikel’s full name is John Michael Nchekwube Obinna. He was born in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria, on April 22nd, 1987. His father ran a large inter-state transport company. Jon Obi Mikel’s name had a meaning to it – Nchekwube meant “hope”, while “Obinna” meant “Father’s heart”.
This footballer started his prominent career when he was only twelve years old. He was picked out of three thousand other footballers to play at the Pepsi Football Academy.
John Obi Mikel stood out among many other young boys to the scouts, and eventually, he was chosen to play for the top club Plateau United. This club graduated a lot of stars, which went on to play in the top European leagues.
John quickly made headlines as one of the most talented young footballers after he nailed the FIFA Under-17 World Championship. The Norwegian club “Lyn Fotball”, based in Oslo, expressed interest in this promising player, and he moved to the northern country.
John Obi Mikel as a Chelsea player. Photo: skysports.com
John Obi Mikel in Chelsea
Obi’s transfer to the English team Chelsea at the age of 18 was quite controversial, because he also was said to be signed to another English club, Manchester United, and the two clubs went on to fight for the talented youngster. The scandal was later calmed down, and John joined Chelsea. The Nigerian footballer appeared in his first game for Chelsea football club in the Champions League – they played against the club from Bulgaria, Levski Sofia. John’s performance was highly praised by the critics, and he was named one of the most talented beginner players.
John Obi Mikel played for the Chelsea football club for a total of eleven years, from 2006 to 2017. He appeared in the official games 249 times and scored one goal. In 2016, it was announced that the Nigerian midfielder will not be renewing his contract with the club when the time comes for it to expire at the end of this season.
After John Obi Mikel’s departure from Chelsea football club, he went to China, where the local club “Tianjin TEDA” signed the talented midfielder for free in January 2017. He scored the first goal of the season and his second goal in the league in the game against Guangzhou R&F football club in April 2018.
John Obi Mikel playing for Tianjin TEDA. Photo: espn.com
The Nigerian national team player
Aside for the club career, John Obi Mikel also had a very productive international career with the Nigerian national team. He first represented the national team by participating in the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship, where he played for the under-20 team of Nigeria. At this tournament, he brilliantly showed his talents, and won the prestigious award “Silver Ball”, for being the second best player at the championship. By the way, it was the future legend Lionel Messi who was crowned the most valuable player of the competition.
John Obi Mikel’s debut game for the Nigerian senior football team happened in 2005 when he substituted the other player in the friendly match against Libya, which ended with the score 1-0. He was in the squad for Africa Cup of Nations, which took place in 2006. John Obi Mikel played in the second game of the tournament against Zimbabwe, where he came as a substitute, and he gave a goal assist to Christian Obodo, followed by scoring his own goal
Of course, the international career of John Obi Mikel was not without problems. He got suspended from the team in 2007, after the conflicts with the manager and the officials. However, he later apologized and returned to the team for the Africa Cup of Nations 2008, where he scored a goal and earned an assist. Nigeria qualified to the quarterfinals, where they lost to Ghana.
After some more controversies with the managers, John Obi Mikel was dropped from the team again in 2008 but later returned. Nonetheless, he could not take part in the FIFA World Cup 2010, because he was still recovering from his knee injury after the surgery which he went through earlier that year, in May. His time to shine came three years later, in 2013, when he became one of the best players at the Africa Cup of Nations. He was the key player for the Nigerian national team,and he helped his teammates to win the third title. He managed to make the team of the tournament, which was complied by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
John Obi Mikel first participated in the World Cup in 2014, during the tournament in Brazil. During the Super Eagles’ first match, where they competed against Iran, John Obi Mikel earned the award of Man of the Match.
With his talent and persistence, he helped the Nigerian team reach round 16 for the first time in sixteen years. His international career was not limited to that tournament – four years later, in 2018, he contributed to the 3-1 victory against Algeria by providing a goal and an assist for his teammate Victor Moses. Nigeria showed a fairly good performance at the championship, by finishing third in their group.
This footballer also participated in the 2016 Summer Olympics as a part of Nigeria team, where he was the captain. At this tournament, John Obi Mikel and his team won the bronze medal, by winning 3-2 against Honduras. This way, Nigeria became the first country to won all the three medals at the Olympic Games, as the 1996 team won the gold, and 2008 team won the silver.
Family life of the most popular player
John Obi Mikel is married to a beautiful Russian woman, who is a daughter of a businessman. Her name is Olga Diyachenko.
Before becoming friends and getting together, they were neighbors for five years. In 2015, they welcomed their beautiful twin daughters. Their names are Mia and Ava. John and Olga decided to give their daughters international names and not Russian or Nigerian because they are citizens of the world.
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Now you know who is the greatest footballer in Nigeria these days. With his incredible talent and dedication, John Obi Mikel has managed to become the first name that the young Nigerians think about when they are asked to name a famous footballer. He has played all around the world – in Africa, Europe, and Asia. However, no matter what, he is dedicated to his native country Nigeria, and always gives his all on the pitch when it comes to protecting the pride of his motherland.
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