Mikel Obi is a professional Nigerian footballer who is best known for playing in the English Premier League with Chelsea Football Club.
The charitable Super Eagles captain, who was once voted the second-best player behind the great Lionel Messi in a FIFA youth tournament, currently plies his trade for Chinese Super League club Tianjin TEDA.
Who Is Mikel Obi?
Mikel Obi was born John Michael Nchekwube Obinna to Irosu and Michael Obi on the 22nd of April, 1987, in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria. His father is a retired civil servant who now runs an inter-state transport company while his mother is a businesswoman.
A young Mikel attended Jos Metropolis Township Primary School where it is said that he was first discovered while playing on a dusty pitch. His official football career, however, kicked off when he joined the Pepsi Football Academy at just 12 years of age. He went on to play for local side Plateau United before joining up with the Nigerian under-17 team that played in the FIFA U-17 World Championships.
That tournament, which was held in Finland, turned out to be a defining one for the footballer as it did not just gave birth to the name he goes by today but also gave him an opportunity to show the world his talents. The Nigerian football association had mistakenly submitted his name as Mikel instead of Michael for the tournament. Mikel went on to embrace this mistake, adding that the name had a special ring to it.
Following the tournament, Mikel moved to Norway, joining Oslo-based club Lyn. Two years later, in the summer of 2005, he was called to join the Nigerian youth squad that would participate in the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship.
Nigeria were runners-up to a Lionel Messi-led Argentine team in the tournament with Mikel Obi himself being voted the tournament’s second best player. He was further crowned African Young Player of the Year in 2005 and 2006.
After the tournament, Mikel Obi was embroiled in a transfer saga that saw him first announce that he had joined Premier League giants Manchester United before later recounting his statement to say that the move was forced upon him by Lyn Oslo without the council of his advisers. He went on to say that his preferred destination would be Chelsea FC who he had reportedly trained with in the summer of 2004 to the delight of its then manager Jose Mourinho.
The saga was later resolved by the three clubs who reached an out of court settlement, with Chelsea reportedly paying United £12 million and Lyn £4 million. A work permit was granted to Mikel in June 2006 making way for him to join the side permanently. He made his first start for the London club on the 12th of September, 2006, in a UEFA Champions League game against Bulgarian club Levski Sofia.
Mikel Obi went on to play for Chelsea for 11 seasons, making a total of 374 appearances and scoring 6 goals. He lifted a total of nine trophies with the club, including a UEFA Champions League title in the 2011–12 season, and a UEFA Europa League title the following year in the 2012–13 season. His other accolades with Chelsea include two Premier League titles (2009–10 and 2014–15 ), three FA Cups (2006–07, 2008–09, and 2011–12), the Football League Cup in the 2006–07 season and then the FA Community Shield in 2009.
In January 2017, Mikel completed a free transfer to Chinese club Tianjin TEDA after it was announced a few months before that Chelsea would not be renewing his contract upon its expiry.
National Team Career
Mikel Obi started off his senior international career in 2005 in a friendly against Libya. The next few years were marred by suspensions and improper conduct allegations, including his failure to honor invitations by the team.
After issuing an apology and getting back with the team, Mikel was part of the squad that was knocked out by Ghana in the quarter-finals of the 2008 Africa Nations Cup. He was ruled out with injury for the 2010 FIFA World Cup but later returned to win the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.
In 2016, he was captain of the squad that won bronze at the summer Olympics in Brazil, having also partly funded their trip, accommodation, and feeding after the government abandoned the squad.
Salary and Net Worth
Mikel Obi is said to have a net worth of more than £30 million. He also reportedly earns about £140,000 a week in China with Tianjin TEDA FC which is way higher than he took home at Chelsea, reportedly to be around £82,000 per week plus other add-ons and bonuses.
Mikel Obi’s Wife and Kids
It is unclear whether Mikel Obi is married, however, he is currently engaged to Russian businesswoman Olga Diyachenko. The couple met in 2013 in London where they first became friends before turning into lovers. Two years later, Mikel and Olga welcomed twin daughters who they named Ava and Mia.
Unconfirmed reports also have it that Mikel has fathered two other children with different women in the past. The identity and names of these women have however been kept a secret.
Height, Weight, Measurements, and Other Facts
- Birth Name: John Michael Nchekwube Obinna
- Date of Birth: 22 April 1987
- Place of Birth: Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria
- Height: 6 feet 2 inches (188 cm)
- Weight: 86 kg
- Shoe Size: Not Available
- Chest Size: Not Available
- Playing position: Midfielder